#683 – What goes around comes around? The more things change…

Posted on | The Agurban

What goes around comes around? The more things change…

Industry Week posted a brief glance at their “hot manufacturing” cover stories from their first 25 years, from 1970 – 1994. Here are a few that caught our eye. At the end you will find a link to see the complete list.

Nov. 9, 1970: Can Medical Costs Be Cured? – Medical costs were soaring even 25 years ago. Hospital rooms cost $81 daily, up from $48 in 1966. At the heart of the price inflation lay expensive, technologically advanced equipment and an organized labor force demanding higher salaries. Some members of Congress advocated a national health-care system–to be structured like the Social Security system.

Oct. 4, 1971: Is There Still Time to Save US Industry? – The U.S. share of the world auto industry had plummeted to 33% by 1970 — down from 76% in 1950. In a 32-page section, IW explored the drastic increase of imports to the U.S., wondering if the country was exporting too many jobs, jeopardizing its position as the No. 1 industrial power, and becoming a warehouse for imported goods.

May 13, 1974: Trade with Russia: from Hope to Reality – The Soviet Union topped the list of Socialist countries visited by IW editors to analyze business possibilities. Trade between the U.S. and USSR jumped to $1.5 billion in 1973 from a minuscule $129 million in 1971, but was stalled by Congressional debate to resolve most-favored-nation tariff treatment and an assurance of Eximbank credits. Resolving the issue would open two-way trade.

Aug. 29, 1977: Skilled Worker Nears Extinction – Industries suffered reduced production, reduced quality, and increased costs because of what many managers felt was a shortage of properly skilled workers. One manager hired 20% more employees to cope. The shortage crossed all geographic regions, industries, and plant sizes. Of 152 managers surveyed by IW, more than half reported a shortage, and 78% of that number claimed profit losses. Some attributed the problems to unmotivated workers.

Feb. 5, 1979: Asia’s Economic ‘Gang of Four’ – Nipping at the heels of the Land of the rising sun, south Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore were hailed as the four fastest-growing Asian economies. these makers of semiconductor devices, suede and leather fashions, pleasure boats, and office equipment raked in $11.8 billion in U.S. sales in 1977 — more than half as much as Japan.

Mar. 3, 1980: Survival Strategies in Detroit – Rising costs, foreign competition — including the rumored construction of a central Ohio Honda plant — and strict government policies plagued the health of Detroit’s automakers. But General Motors still led the car market, and Ford had the largest light-truck market share. Some critics doomed Chrysler to an auto manufacturer’s grave, while American Motors beamed with profitable pride because of the Jeep’s popularity.

Feb. 7, 1983: Factory of the Future – CAD/CAM Goes to Work – IW developed a major report on computer-aided design and manufacturing at a time when most companies had only begun to computerize their manufacturing operations. the National Science Foundation said CAD/CAM had “greater potential to increase productivity than any invention since electricity.” One company said its CAD/CAM system slashed design time on a mold-maker by 65%

June 11, 1984: The PC Invasion – Why the PC Invasion has CEOs Up a Tree – Computing power that once required machines that filled entire rooms flooded the business world — as desktop personal computers. Managers had to integrate computer technology and the manual processes of the time. IW explored their fears of loss of control and of security and privacy violations — a current concern about the internet.

Oct. 19, 1990: America’s Best Plants – IW saluted 12 facilities in the first America’s Best Plants competition. The initial winners included: Corning Inc. (Corning, N.Y.); Dana Corp. (Minneapolis): Digital Equipment Corp. (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Ford Motor Co. (Wixon, Mich.); Hewlett-Packard Co. (Roseville, Calif.); IBM Corp. (Rochester, Minn.); Motorola Inc. (Boynton Beach, Fla.); NUMMI (Fremont, Calif.): Rolscreen Co. (Carroll, Iowa); Texas Instruments Inc. (Lubbock, Tex.); Toledo Scale Corp. (Worthington, Ohio); and Xerox Corp. (Webster, N.Y.).

Nov. 1, 1993: The China Boom – This Time It’s for Real – “If we don’t go to China now, we’ll get left behind,” was the refrain on the lips of business executives worldwide, as the benefits of investing in the most populous country in the world began to outweigh the risks. With foreign investment pouring in, quintupling in 1992 to $57.5 billion, China’s gross domestic product soared at an annualized 14% clip in the first half of the year alone. Even with the Chinese government applying the brakes, the U.S. Commerce Dept. predicted growth of 8% to 9% a year through the decade.