more from the LA TimesIs outsourcing to blame for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner woes?
It’s been a miserable week for Boeing. Federal investigators have grounded all of the U.S. company’s new and much-hyped 787 Dreamliner jets after reports that the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries were overheating and catching fire.
Two major airlines in Japan grounded all Boeing 787 jets on Jan. 16 after one had to make an emergency landing.
And already, a favorite culprit has emerged: outsourcing. Critics have long charged that Boeing was far too reliant on offshore suppliers for the 787′s production. More than 30 percent of the jetliner’s components came from overseas, including the Japanese-made lithium-ion battery that is now garnering all the headlines. (By contrast, just 5 percent of the parts of its predecessor, the 747, were foreign-made.)
One possibility is that Boeing’s far-flung network of suppliers made it that much trickier for the U.S.-based manufacturer to spot and evaluate systemic problems.The biggest mistake people make when talking about the outsourcing of U.S. jobs by U.S. companies is to treat it as a moral issue.
Sure, it's immoral to abandon your loyal American workers in search of cheap labor overseas. But the real problem with outsourcing, if you don't think it through, is that it can wreck your business and cost you a bundle.
Case in point: Boeing Co. and its 787 Dreamliner.
Manufacturing clothes or shoes in a low-wage third world nation may make economic sense but out-sourcing parts of a highly complex structure, such as a modern passenger plane, doesn't appear to work so well. Wonder what the free market types will say to that little notion. Will they then argue that the whole plane should have been built overseas and that the real problem are those union 'thugs' who cause American manufacturers to move production out of the country?
Not very American of them, I would say