Farmer Iron

Making the U.S. Industrial Case

Ran across an interesting ad in the most recent edition of Fortune and thought I would share it with you. The...

Ran across an interesting ad in the most recent edition of Fortune and thought I would share it with you. The company - in what we call an "advertorial" next to an ad talked about the fact that U.S. manufacturing is not in decline and noted that 22% of the world's manufacturing output in 2005 was from the U.S.

 

Those are great numbers. The company goes on to point out that while employment in manufacturing has fallen - from 17 million workers in 1979 to about 13.5 million today - the drop hasn't been caused by a "pernicious vacuum cleaner sucking jobs out of the U.S. and into the rest of the world." They say the change in the manufacturing population is due to higher productivity.

 

It's a fascinating story that I've told in the past when covering factories of farm equipment makers. Workers are hard at it making great tools and equipment for a variety of industries including agriculture. And in this ad the company points out that American output per worker hour is up 160% over the past three decades. Pretty startling numbers.

 

Now why would you as a farmer care about some company's productivity story? The fact is the ad is for CNH the corporate owners of Case IH and New Holland. And they point out how workers in that firm are getting more productive by working together with managers to rethink every production process.

 

An example noted in the ad concerns the Grand Island, Neb., combine production facility where both red and yellow combines roll off the line. Workers there reconfigured the shop floor and reduced the delivery points for assembly parts from 40 to seven. That's a huge change in how materials might be handled at that plant.

 

CNH is telling its story to the investment community, those readers of Fortune who might buy stock in the company. Or those that are already shareholders. It's just refreshing to hear this story from an ag company at a time when a lot of people are talking about the soft economy. As for that Grand Island plant? They're hard at work building already-sold combines for the 2009 harvest.

 

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