2013 in Review

by Todd McDonald on January 10, 2014

It’s that time again….time to reflect back on the past year to examine ups and downs, accomplishments and disappointments, triumphs and the tragedies. Looking back at 2013, we saw a range of events ranging from the birth of Prince George and the retirement of a Pope to a fumbled launch of healthcare.gov and calamities such as the foiled Carnival Triumph cruise – just to name a few.

What might not come to mind, however, is the increased prevalence of reshoring. According to a recent Plastics Today article, As “Made in USA” gains in popularity, companies reshore manufacturing, “It seems that 2013 was a good year for reshoring of manufacturing. As ‘Made in USA’ labels become more ubiquitous thanks to a lot of media attention over the past year, it appears that’s influencing people in corporate boardrooms.”

In other words, reshoring became more than just a buzzword.

While consumer preference for Made in USA products, or even their willingness to pay a premium price for these items may have played a big factor, at TEQ we believe there are many other reasons for this shift.

Moving manufacturing operations closer to customers can reduce waste, decrease transportation costs and delays in production, avoid the expense of excess inventory and underutilized specialized labor and equipment, increase cash flow and (perhaps most importantly) help manufacturers meet customers’ rising demands for agility and speed in an increasingly specialized world.

Not to mention, reshoring efforts have the added benefit of helping manufacturers meet their lean manufacturing and sustainability goals by helping them use the minimum amount of resources necessary for production, thereby reducing the company’s overall carbon footprint.

At TEQ, were able to see this in action when we were awarded a contract to move production of ear thermometer covers for a leading provider of healthcare products from Ireland to North America.

Our audit of the existing workflow revealed a process wrought with inefficiencies subject to the restraints, delays and additional costs of overseas shipments and communication, as well as the inability to transport finished goods cartridges.

Of course, when we took on this project, we did much more than simply move operations from one continent to another. In fact, our reshoring solution was three-pronged:

  1. First, we identified a partner with the expertise and experience to produce the printed components as well as assemble and ship the medical and retail cartons that was also in close proximity to both the materials extruder as well as our clean room facilities.
  2. Next, we worked with this packaging and printing partner to achieve a higher level of robotics and automation through a variety of tooling and machine modifications.
  3. Finally, we collaborated with both our materials extruder and packaging/printing partner to develop a streamlined workflow designed to eliminate excess inventory and delays as well as introduce a continuous flow of material reuse.

The result was a turnkey solution that enabled the recycling of Polypropylene web scrap, pallets and roll cores and also reduced the project’s overall environmental impact while also exceeding the customer’s quality standards.

What about you? Did you observe reshoring moving from cliché to commonplace in 2013?

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