There’s a common misconception that local manufacturing is counterproductive, which is why some companies outsource their manufacturing overseas.
But the misconception is just that, and businesses like AirBoss of America manufacture here at home in order to succeed on regional, national, and international levels. The successful manufacturing of goods in the U.S. and Canada doesn’t happen overnight. However, many companies find that the benefits of local manufacturing—not just financial gains—far outweigh the perceived pitfalls.
As a result, local manufacturers help to create self-sufficient communities that, in turn, are able to contribute directly to national security by supplying in-demand products and materials.
Measuring Success Means More Than Just Money
At AirBoss, we measure success with key performance indicators (KPIs) that range from product sales to technological innovation and rubber compounding expertise. In doing so, we’re able to establish benchmarks that elevate operations that don’t sacrifice quality or create problems.
Often, it’s perceived problems or short-term opportunities that compel companies to move manufacturing overseas. Cutting corners to create profit bubbles can cripple companies in the long run.
“If you don’t make things, you lose that expertise. And you don’t just get that back overnight,” says AirBoss Executive Vice President Chris Figel. “Part of the way you fight against [offshoring] is you make your products higher quality, you make your products more sophisticated, and you find other ways to add value for your customers.”
Adding value is what can lead local manufacturers to reassess KPIs and better understand what it means to succeed at the local level.
Common modern local manufacturing success KPIs might include:
- Financial performance – Money in versus money out is the name of the game. It makes sense that financial performance serves as the foundation upon which most manufacturers measure success. Total cost of operations, supply and inventory expenses, and all the in-betweens determine how well a manufacturer is doing quarterly and annually in the eyes of investors.
- Manufacturing efficiency – Metrics like machine downtime, capacity versus yield, and on-time delivery all help manufacturers measure process efficiency. Most companies with new product innovation departments will also measure time-to-market metrics—the time it takes from idea to finished product—in order to streamline and improve manufacturing processes.
- Product and supplier quality – Quality standard assessments and component adjustments help manufacturers maintain product and supplier excellence. Every link in your supply chain serves a purpose, and it’s your job to demand excellence from your manufacturing materials and the suppliers who provide them.
- Inventory management – Carrying costs, demand forecast, and turnover rates all contribute to inventory management and overall company performance. Smart business dictates that carrying costs are as low as can be, demand forecast is within manufacturing thresholds, and turnover rates continue to fuel production goals.
- Customer satisfaction – Metrics like new customer acquisition cost, churn or turnover rates, and general customer satisfaction can be harder to measure. That said, customer opinion and repeat business drastically impact annual revenue. You want happy customers.
- Corporate social responsibility – Commitment to community and an honest governance structure are pillars of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR metrics help manufacturers build lasting local success through employee outreach and regional support.
Local Manufacturing Supports National Security
AirBoss Defense Group is positioned to support national security efforts in the United States and Canada. We have the ability to act quickly and efficiently through local facilities, and this makes it easier to supply invaluable personal protective equipment (PPE) during a global pandemic.
Both the AirBoss ISO-POD (a negative-pressure patient isolation unit designed for patient transport in high-contamination environments) and the AirBoss Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) System were advantageous to national security efforts in 2020.
“We’re grateful to AirBoss for this donation during the ongoing pandemic” said Gord McEachen, Chief of Toronto Paramedic Services When AirBoss was able to donate five ISO-POD units. “If required, these ISO-POD units can transport patients infected with any highly contagious disease, including COVID-19, in total isolation while ensuring the safety of our paramedics and other frontline healthcare workers.”
Offshoring is impractical and expensive at best. At worst, offshore manufacturing can be disastrous when national security efforts require things like PPE and defense equipment.
What’s more, many modern manufacturers are more comfortable keeping company information and proprietary technology close to home.
“I think it’s critically important that certain technology, certain information, stays within a country rather than being shared around the world,” says Figel. “When you think about defense products, it’s a very sensitive topic.”
Figel also says, “The reality is, when you’re making something for national security in North America, you control it. You know what’s going into that product. You know that no one’s putting a backdoor into a piece of software. And you’re comfortable knowing [that] the people who are making that product have the right motives.“
Local Manufacturing Creates Self-Sustaining Communities
Local manufacturing hires local workers. This is something that communities rely on and can be proud of. But manufacturing jobs do a lot more than just provide financial support to local communities.
“First and foremost, we are relatively large employers in all the communities that we serve,” says AirBoss President and COO Chris Bitsakakis, “We take great pride and responsibility in keeping [our factories] running and growing.”
Most local manufacturing success stories stem from a commitment to building, providing for, and being part of the communities in which companies set up facilities. As a result, manufacturing employees are proud to contribute directly to self-sustaining communities.
“Every time you build a plant, it’s not just the plant that you’re building. It’s all of the industries around that plant that support that plant,” explains Figel. “You have maintenance. You have machinery. You have subcontractors.”
“I think from that perspective,” Figel adds, “… we’re going to see a really big shift, hopefully, toward going back to our manufacturing roots and to actually producing things that we consume rather than consuming things from somewhere else around the world.”
Final Thoughts: Local Success Means Local Support and Sufficiency
Local manufacturing supports national security efforts when they’re needed most. Local manufacturing success—while traditionally measured in profits and margins—is measured today using a wide range of KPIs that take into account social responsibility and community outreach.
Local success means more than just jobs, and more and more manufacturers are realizing that’s a good thing.
“We’ve been emphasizing that for the last several years,” says Figel. “We can look at people and say, ‘We never stopped.’ We’re just continuing to do what we’ve always done, which is make quality products in North America.”