Reshoring: Why it Makes Sense for Everyone

Recent news stories and surveys are consistently demonstrating a positive trend in manufacturing: reshoring. Following a period of offshoring—sending business overseas where labor was cheaper—during which time American manufacturing suffered as a result, the time has finally come for the industry to make a comeback. It’s a trend that’s indeed very welcome.

keystoneSmall and large businesses alike are realizing the value. From Apple to Boeing to countless small and medium manufacturers, companies are seeing that there are solid reasons why manufacturing at home simply makes sense. These include:

1)      More competitive American wages; overseas workers’ salaries are not as cheap as they once were.

2)      Abundant and more affordable natural resources in the U.S.

3)      American innovation, technology, and quality.

In a recent article written on IEEE’s Today’s Engineer, it was said that the overwhelming support of reshoring “[makes] it clear that investing and producing at home is a priority and is the choice that most benefits shareholders, companies and country alike.”

The article points out that two separate surveys by the Economist and Boston Consulting Group show that businesses and consumers prefer at-home manufacturing; the latter survey demonstrated that Americans are even willing to pay more for Made in the USA products.

This is good news for everyone, including engineers. According to the article, “It is in the self-interest of engineers to encourage domestic manufacturing, because if their companies offshore manufacturing, engineering is likely to follow.” Reshoring keeps engineers’ jobs at home, while adding jobs throughout the manufacturing sector, strengthening the country’s competitive edge, and completely shifting the approach of all business models.

The logic behind bringing jobs and business back to the U.S. is at once simple and multi-faceted. It makes complete sense—for so many reasons. As the trend continues, we can all look forward to the return of the world’s best and most advanced manufacturing industry.

Fracking Vs. Renewable Energy

drilling rigWhile worldwide energy consumption continues to grow exponentially, the supplies of nonrenewable resources like oil and natural gas unfortunately continue to dwindle. Consequently, many people are beginning to advocate renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. One particular method of obtaining petroleum and gas, known as fracking, has become an especially hot topic among energy enthusiasts.

Fracking (short for hydraulic fracturing) is the process of shooting a highly pressurized liquid mixture into a pre-drilled hole in the earth to create small cracks in the bedrock. These cracks give us access to fuels like natural gas and petroleum that we would otherwise not be able to harvest.

There are a few reasons why fracking is getting such a bad rap. The primary reason is because the injected liquid is infused with harmful chemicals, some of which are even known carcinogens. Shooting this liquid into the earth can lead to groundwater contamination. Another aspect that people are taking issue with is the enormous amount of water used in the liquid mixture, water that could instead be used for drinking, bathing, or irrigation.

Still, fracking clearly has its benefits. The oil and gas we’ve been able to collect through the process has significantly boosted domestic oil production, leading to a reduction in gas prices. It also allows us to generate electricity with about half the CO2 emissions as generation using coal.

So, if fracking is so controversial, why don’t we just make the switch to renewable energy? Simply stated, it would cost way too much. Energy generators like solar panels, windmills, and dams are all expensive to install and maintain. Another big issue is that they’re not very reliable since they all depend on weather. And unfortunately, even when the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the water is flowing, they’re still pretty inefficient.

Despite these obstacles, the benefits of renewable energy have convinced many people that it’s worth the extra cost. Possibly the most attractive feature is that it doesn’t pollute the environment; it’s as clean and environmentally friendly as power production can get. And, unlike fossil fuels, we never have to worry about these sources disappearing. Renewable energy is especially advantageous in regions where there’s no access to a power grid, as is the case in many third world countries.

When it comes right down to it, the truth is that neither fracking nor renewable sources by themselves can produce enough energy to satisfy the needs of our power hungry world. Since fossil fuel supplies are finite, we do know that there will come a day where we’ll have to depend on renewable energy. Right now, however, we depend on both.