Made in China - what does that mean?

Started Dec 15, 2011 | Discussions thread
MasterOfGoingFaster Senior Member • Posts: 1,255
Remember when "made in Japan" meant cheap junk?

Those who comment on the world-wide supply chain have given you the correct response. But those China bashers.... goodness!

Frankly, I’m rather amused by all the comments from those who know nothing about manufacturing and supply chain issues. Bashing China shows simplistic thinking.

I’m old enough to remember when Japan was the country known for making “crap” products. Yeah – everything you guys are saying about China was said about Japan. Used to Leica cameras (German), I was quite surprised by the quality and durability of my Nikon F. My Father, who grew up in WWII, to this day refuses to believe Japan produces quality products.

Here’s how the world REALLY works. Japan’s government needed to put people to work after WWII, and came to the conclusion that they could never compete with the USA if they had to import steel. They made a government-backed push to become the leader in steel production, with the belief that doing so would give a lot of companies an advantage in the world market. The result was the development of a new steel-making process that was far more efficient than the US’s old steel mills in the “rust belt”. The auto industry uses a lot of steel in each car, so this was a huge help.

The US companies were milking profits from their old plants and failed to keep up with the new process technology. Years later, our family company found ourselves choosing between American steel with poor surface quality or higher quality Japanese steel at a cheaper price. This was a bitter pill my Father had to accept.

Seeing how this worked out, other Asian countries focused on core technologies and now we see chip making and circuit board “stuffing” being done better in Asia than elsewhere. Want to make aluminum? That requires a lot of electricity, so you'd want to build a factory where there's cheap power - usually hydroelectric.

All modern manufacturers know that higher quality is the key to lower cost (via fewer defects). Dr. William Edwards Deming helped US manufactures achieve high levels of quality during WWII, but after the war management discarded his teaching and went back to the old way of doing things. Deming realized he should have involved management from the beginning. General MacArthur brought Deming to Japan to teach them his Statistical Process Control (SPC) and the rest is history.

After the US auto companies developed a reputation for poor quality, it was assumed the US workers were at fault. Once Honda and Toyota began US manufacturing, it became clear that the US workers are as good (and maybe better) than those in Japan. The management teams at the US auto companies simply did not understand, so they wrecked their own industry.

Having worked with a few vendors from China, I can tell you that they can indeed produce very high quality products – IF you work with them in the right way. Apple is an example of this. If all you do is seek bids for the lowest price (not cost), then you’ll likely get crap products from a crap company. Guess what – it’s the same everywhere.

I trust Nikon to properly manage their operation, regardless of where it’s built.

Would you rather have a Nikon lens made in China or a Sigma lens made in Japan?

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Ken Elliott
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