Essentially, by getting in the bed with China the US capitalist and political system has overplayed their hand and created their own Frankenstein's MONSTER that is slowly but surely siphoning vitality from America.
Nearly 20 yeara ago we had created worlds first fully robotic line for assembling flip chip CPUs and Gallium Arsenide PAs to organic substrates. Later we created robotic lines to manufacture even those multi layer organic substrates ( since labor cost and yield were issues ). But robotic manufacturing in the US came to a halt as the two major semiconductor Corps that I had done this work for discovered a source of really low cost robots of the carbon-based variety - in SE Asia and China.
Now I hear that even FoxConn ( real name: Hong Hai , Apple's Taiwan based assembly provider that has huge factories in China ) is using Robots in their Chinese factories.
The cat is out of the bag and just Robotics would no longer guarantee competitiveness to US mfr.s who want to "on - shore" as a last stand.
Poor quality was given as one of the reasons for the latest in-shore statisitcs of some electronics companies. 'Curiosity' does prove the U.S. has a technological edge. But how does that reliability and by extension quality control translate to everyday electronics, whether in industrial or consumer applications? The other question is, can consumer companies compete if their products are made to better qualiy and last longer; it goes against the grain of their business model. It's somehow dreamy to think principles of automation can be applied for comtitive advantage in all segments of the electronics industry. For the IPC and its members we now know in-sourcing is becoming a trend. Not sure that trend can be extrapolated across the board to all electronics or hi-tech.
I was a steelworker in the 1990's and maintained the instrumentation, electronics, and electrical at the mills. One day I was talking to an operator in the air-conditioned control room and he made the comment that no one in the mill was a real "steelworker" as in the past because all they did was sit around and watch the machines work on the nearly 3000 degree steel. All the remaining humans in the mill were there to setup, operate, service, or repair the manufacturing systems (management was an overhead cost burden). As automation becomes too fast for people to interact due to increased production demands, workers will become nothing but machine "managers" who make sure the machines are performing correctly. Since future automated production gains will depend less on manual labor, labor will not be the major deciding factor to where factories are setup. Since labor skills will likely be “equal” in most major places, it also will be less of a factor. What will be the deciding factor will be the cost of transportation. Thus moving factories closer to where it is consumed (i.e. USA) will be the deciding factor and by default the US will benefit. This is ending up being closer to 3D printing being the ultimate solution (no labor, no storage, no delay, and close to consumer).
@hm-I think it's potentially good news from the perspective of U.S. tech workers. But while I think we'd like to think that its the overall inclination of top management to bring work back to the U.S., I'm not sure we've seen evidence of that.
This is good news. Along with manufacturing, much of design work will soon return to US. It is not only labour cost justification, but overall inclination of top management to bring back the work to US.
The missions like the "Curiosity" , where complex and perfect engineering is a must, show that US is much ahead of the rest of the world technologically. If this strong technological base is used to have state of art mass manufacturing industry for consumer electronics then the American businessmen won't to have to look offshore for saving a few dollars.