February 7, 2015

As the world’s manufacturing superpower, China is home to thousands of factories producing millions of items each day. Keeping track of all that industrial output is far from easy, though. With little oversight to monitor them, some Chinese factories make knock-off or simply poor quality products, and then sell them to retailers as if they were up to standard.

While pirated items are mainly a headache for the company that gets ripped off, products made cheaply or without regard for Continue reading

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September 23, 2014

In the 1950s, more than 150 television manufacturers called the U.S. home. Today, not even component parts for TVs are produced on American soil. Still, that hasn’t stopped Wal-Mart from slapping “Assembled in the USA” stickers onto many flat screen TVs stocked in its stores. That’s because the company buys the televisions from South Carolina’s Element Electronics Corporation, which imports all their items from China.

That doesn’t mean Element is simply a middleman operation though. TVs that arrive at the Continue reading

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August 26, 2014

Economists have long argued that a skills gap is growing among the American workforce. Hundreds of businesses both large and small have echoed this sentiment, claiming that there aren’t enough qualified people to perform certain jobs. However, in most cases this line of thinking simply doesn’t add up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed people exceeds the number of jobs available in every industry. In durable goods manufacturing, for instance, there are approximately 576,000 idle Continue reading

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July 11, 2014

 

A few years ago, a rash of employee suicides at Foxconn Technology prompted investigations into the working conditions at the Chinese manufacturing giant. As the maker of such in-demand items as the iPad and Hewlett-Packard servers, Foxconn employs tens of thousands of people who work long shifts and live on-site. The monotonous work and the dorm-like living quarters can make for a grey life on the Foxconn campus, leading to depression and worse.

Foxconn responded to this bleak state Continue reading

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March 31, 2014

The slow reemergence of American manufacturing has been touted by politicians on both sides of the aisle as an essential force in the recent economic recovery. But in many cases, the manufacturers driving production across the nation aren’t American at all. In fact, Honda recently announced that it built and shipped more cars from the U.S. than it imported here from Japan.

According to Honda executives, the company’s current status as an American exporting power wasn’t the intention when it Continue reading

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January 23, 2014

As emerging markets like India and Brazil continue to grow, more and more of their citizens will enter the middle class. This relatively untapped consumer group presents plenty of lucrative opportunities for companies across the globe. However, finding the right products to sell to this expanding class is not so simple, even for companies operating in their home countries. For instance, Tata Motors launched its ultra-cheap Nano model as an introductory vehicle for Indian consumers. But with a price tag Continue reading

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December 3, 2013

Research and development has long been an expensive element of the auto industry. For decades devising even the smallest addition to an engine could cost millions of dollars and take as long as eight months to accomplish. But thanks to advances in technology over the last five years, engineers can now test dozens of designs within a virtual environment. As a result, automakers are at last seeking affordable innovations in fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.

For instance, in 2010 Continue reading

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November 19, 2013

 

For many image-conscious consumers, product customization provides a way to stand out from the crowd without searching high and low for something totally unique. At Big Shot Bikes, for instance, customers can choose the color and shape of up to 10 parts of the Colorado company’s fixed gear bikes. Once customers select their preferences, Big Shot assembles the bicycles and ships them to the buyers for under $500. With such a relatively reasonable price tag, the company wants consumers Continue reading

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