Over the last several decades, the commercial world has become smaller and smaller. While there are many contributing factors, trade policies and technological advances such as the Internet are considered the biggest ones. Regardless of the exact influences, they all add up to the ability for you to buy products made just about anywhere in the world. So, since you can source globally, why should you stick with US-based manufacturers? Let’s review some of the key benefits:
1) Better Quality
Many applications require QMS Certifications such as ISO 9001
To be fair, it would be misleading to simply state, “If it’s made in the US, it’s a quality product. If it’s made overseas, it’s not.” Quality happens at the company level, not the national level. However, US companies as a whole tend to be more quality conscious, with stringent quality assurance programs in place. As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, quality can not be sacrificed in favor of lower prices for ruggedized applications. Systems and components must perform reliably and consistently all the time. This reality is only achieved when a manufacturer takes quality very seriously. Practices are in place to ensure quality every step of the way. This is why US manufacturers today have entire departments and teams dedicated to quality, led by trained quality managers.
In the unlikely event that a ruggedized system fails due a faulty part, traceability is a critical tool in identifying the root cause and remedying it. This is especially true if the issue affects multiple units, which could lead to a recall. When the life’s journey of an inferior or defective component or raw material can be traced back to its origin, it becomes much easier to figure out what happened. It also facilitates stemming and resolving the issue permanently if the culprits are still being used in production.
When dealing with military, aerospace and other critical applications, systematic traceability is non-negotiable. Know that traceability applies to more than just materials and components, it covers the entire manufacturing process, from design to delivery. So, how does all of this apply to US manufacturers? It is much easier to verify a company here in the States, than one that is overseas. Similar to the commitment to quality programs in the US, traceability is now hardwired into the DNA of countless reputable manufacturers.
The traceability umbrella covers services as well. Let’s look at a big one: engineering. A major benefit of working with US-based companies is that many of them still do engineering either in-house or they partner with US-based product development firms. On the other hand, overseas manufacturers tend to pull from deep pools of talent, consisting of hundreds or thousands of people. While this offers them flexibility, it comes at a steep cost: if something goes wrong due to an engineering mistake, it could be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to find that engineer to help evaluate and remedy the issue.
3) Ease of Doing Business
Let’s face it: it’s generally easier to do business in your home country. You speak the same language. Of course, millions of people speak English all over the world, but it gets tricky when dealing with highly technical products and their specifications. In our world, the terminology is quite nuanced, and one little error due to a seemingly minor miscommunication can ultimately lead to failure. Absolutely unacceptable in a safety- or mission-critical application.
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Also, there is the challenge that time zones create. In the continental US, there are only four meaning that you can communicate much more quickly and efficiently. Emails are responded to in the same day. For those of us that still occasionally pick up the phone, people will be there to answer. In-person and virtual meetings can be scheduled with greater flexibility. Let’s face it, nobody wants to do a video conference with a supplier at 3am local time.
Here are a few other things to consider: For buyers that require plant visits and audits, it’s much easier to do that in the US, rather than travel overseas. In unfortunate situations where something goes horribly wrong, it’s much more difficult to legally pursue a company abroad than it is at home.
4) Tighter Turnaround Times
When purchasing products from US companies, you will usually get them a lot quicker than when sourcing overseas. It’s a simple matter of distance – it takes much less time to ship something within the US than to wait for it to arrive from overseas. Especially when considering that much of what comes from abroad is literally shipped, as in put on a boat. This means your material will take weeks or months to arrive at the port, get unloaded and trucked to its final destination.
Shipping delays can disrupt international supply chains
5) Lower Shipping Costs
As an added bonus, shipping costs tend to be lower as well. Keep in mind that there are many more options when shipping within the US, than to the US. This competition helps keep freight prices in check.
We’ve all experienced or heard the horror stories inflicted by the recent pandemic. Companies struggled to get shipments from global sources on time, if at all. Shipment delays extended from weeks into months. This affected manufacturers abilities to produce and ship product on time. Much of this could been avoided by maintaining local supply chains.