Leaving China: Why Manufacturers are Reshoring to North America

Nov 08, 2021
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The Thomas Publishing Company conducted a survey in the spring of 2020. That was right about the time the pandemic began turning the world on its head. In it, fully 64% of the 878 manufacturing and industrial sector professionals said they “are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to North America.” In other words, manufacturers are leaving China in droves. That’s great news for the United States, Canada, and especially Mexico, which due to its lower labor costs, is likely to win most of that business.

Crossing Our Fingers

But what does it all mean? Is leaving China a permanent move? Or is it one that will reverse itself once the words “Coronavirus” and “lockdown” are firmly in our rear-view mirrors? Excellent questions. Here at Kent USA, we’re extremely optimistic that it’s the former. We suspect that the work is here to stay. And with any luck, there will be even more headed to Western shores soon. That’s because there are some very good reasons to leave China.

All the Right Reasons

For starters, labor costs aren’t as important as they once were. It’s pretty darned easy to stick a robot in front of a CNC lathe or machining center these days. Doing so gains hours upon hours of unattended production time. In addition, sub-spindle and Y-axis capable multitasking centers can machine many parts in a single operation. This further reduces costs. Automation, it seems, is the great equalizer. In addition, working with North American suppliers means shorter, simpler supply chains. Leaving China means lead times are best measured in days or weeks, not months. And communicating with people in a time zone close to you not only streamlines operations, but eliminates surprises.

Leaving China

Granted, China will likely remain an important trading partner for years to come. Yet few of us here in North America will miss the words “offshoring” and “trade deficit,” especially when it comes to manufacturing. It won’t happen overnight, but let’s hope the trend continues. If it does, Kent USA stands ready to support the industry with high-quality machine tools and the support that our customers have come to expect.

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