Globalization has been rampant over the past decade and a half. The coronavirus is not marking the end of globalization – it will just accelerate what was already underway – the re-patronization of much of global manufacturing. The coronavirus pandemic is exposing flaws in supply chains and market vulnerabilities that either were not previously recognized to exist, never been truly tested or simply ignored.
Metrology did much to allow manufacturing globalization to occur. Whether it was the equipment and software that checked the quality of manufactured products in overseas plants, the standardization of quality processes and procedures – through accreditation to international quality standards – or the adherence to strict quality standards previously developed at domestic ‘digital twin’ manufacturing operations. The world learnt to manufacture quality products, at lower costs, in developing economies. Of course, some globalization was to penetrate local domestic markets, at lower cost, but much was to fuel the corporate board-room appetite for growth, profit, share-holder value and executive incentive plans. Few can argue that globalization has been ‘green’ given the huge distances involved in shipping products by air, land or sea.
Research results show that differences between the European and Chinese production systems led to substantial increases in the carbon footprint of traded products, even without allowing for the CO2 emissions from the addition transportation. Newly industrialized economies such as China and India delivered on their potential to increase wealth in both locations.
As the world economies eventually recover from the Coronaviris the reshoring of so many critical manufactured products will be become new goverment and board-room priorities as supply chains are reevaluated. New domestic plants will be built, furrowed plants refurbished and investment in new capital equipment will be authorized as manufacturers ‘bring their parts home’ and focus on being local once again. Of course, companies will remain global but for the sound reasons of market penetration and market-share and not short-term profits.
Metrology will have a huge role to play once again in shaping the next phase in the evolution of manufacturing as smaller plants are built to support local domestic and regional markets with the need to be agile, producing more variants, and to the highest quality standards, as productively as possible.
The humble product of toilet paper, currently in the news globally, seems to have remained a product that did not succumb to globalization and remains manufactured locally – globally. The toilet paper supply chain also offers a relatively ‘clean’ ecological print. Large corporations ‘flushed down the toilet’ so many small local business impacted by their globalization efforts – let’s hope that corporations now see sense and extensively ‘wash their hands’ of globalization, restructure and ‘Make The World Great Again’.
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