Industrial designer and inventor James Dyson once said: “Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles, and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.”
Recently, President Joe Biden released his 2022 budget request to Congress, and it includes one of his signature proposals, the American Jobs Plan. Tax changes make up part of the funding for this plan, including a set of “Made in America” tax adjustments that penalize U.S. companies for offshoring jobs, especially to make goods that are then sold back to American consumers.
Today, many companies are building factories domestically that would have previously outsourced operations overseas. Just this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Southwest states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma plus Nevada added more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs from January 2017 to January 2020, representing 30% of U.S. job growth in that sector and at roughly triple the national growth rate, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why? While sending assembly operations offshore may provide labor savings, there are soft costs around security, knowledge transfer, shipping, and handling that counter and often eliminate the overseas manufacturing advantage. Not to mention the pride that comes along with creating jobs here on our shores.
There is often an expectation for large enterprises to lead the way in driving change and trends like on-shoring, yet it’s often younger, nimbler companies that show true innovation. This is the case for Aperia Technologies with the engineering design and domestic manufacturing of our American-made innovation, the Halo Tire Inflation System. Halo is a versatile, self-powered, bolt-on tire inflation technology that uses a wheel’s rotation to maintain optimal tire pressure. While incredibly simple to use for its customers, Halo is a sophisticated product from an engineering and manufacturing perspective. Yet our company has been able to produce it domestically in a way that makes economic sense and enables carriers to see a strong return on investment (ROI) in just 8-16 months.
Design for manufacturability was and is a key development focus for us at Aperia, ensuring that the Halo product has a relatively short assembly time and is built cost-effectively. This is an inherent aspect of the innovation of the product. Before production, our team spent three years of R&D on Halo, and during that time we optimized the labor equation in the design for manufacturability to be under 30% of the total cost of goods. We knew that any advantages to producing overseas are made obsolete when assembly time is kept low. On top of this, we tested extensively to optimize the component design and material selection as appropriate for the harsh use environment, resulting in an automatic tire inflation solution that our industry has never before seen.
Quality control is another major factor in maintaining manufacturing operations in the U.S. This is also true for Halo, which undergoes 12+ quality checks before leaving the factory and has 100% testing or inspection after every assembly process step. We even add serial numbers to every sub-assembly for maximum traceability.
The decision to manufacture our product domestically is relatively simple. It makes economic sense. It creates jobs. And it is an investment we make in product quality. Our engineers can have their feet on the factory floor every day, and it’s a driver of good communication and a culture of quality at the manufacturing facility. We need to ensure the highest quality, versus sending it overseas where the intellectual property protections and overall quality control can be difficult to manage. But we can only make our commitments to U.S. jobs and quality because we first designed and built a product that is optimized through superior engineering.
The return of manufacturing products in America may be motivated by increased labor costs abroad, freight costs, quality control issues, company image, or all of these factors together. As more products get stamped Made in the U.S., and the manufacturing sector strengthens, it has a direct impact on the economy. As the manufacturing ability grows domestically, the job sector will grow as well.
Ingenuity is an American trait. At Aperia Technologies, we demand exceptional engineering. We’re also proud of Halo being an American-made product and doing our part to create jobs in the U.S.
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