Is Now the Time to Join the Reshoring Revolution?

by Todd McDonald on June 20, 2014

When it comes to offshoring, many companies make sourcing decisions based on price alone, ignoring factors such as quality control issues, transportation costs, time to market delays, intellectual property concerns, lack of manufacturing agility and even their carbon footprint. According to the Reshoring Initiative, the result of this approach can be an astounding 20-30% miscalculation in actual costs.

For this reason, the Reshoring Initiative has developed the Total Cost of Ownership EstimatorTM tool, which incorporates up to 29 cost factors, as well as automatic calculation of freight rates for 17 countries and automatic duty rate calculations for parts or tools to “enable aggregation of all cost and risk factors into one cost for simpler, more objective decision making.”

While we didn’t have a tool like this available when we took over production of ear thermometer covers for a global leader of healthcare devices when the company decided to move manufacturing operations from Ireland to North America, we certainly experienced first-hand the benefits of reshoring beyond mere cost savings, many of which were a direct result of the new streamlined workflow we helped to develop and implement.

Before setting up a fully functional certified modular clean room operation in Huntley, Illinois we conducted an audit of the existing workflow. What we found was a supply chain was 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. As a result, web scrap was not recovered to then be reused back into product and roll cores, pallets and transport carriers.

Our 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. In fact, today, in collaboration with our partners, our facility produces, tests and ships millions of probe covers every day – a total of one billion parts since the project’s inception – with zero defects in the field.

What about you? Do you have a reshoring success story to share?

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