A hill of beans

Dave Wilson met some some American chaps from the Mid-West in a pub in Soho and spent hours discussing brewing beer, ice-fishing and what is left of the industry in the MidWest.

The other night I was in the John Snow pub in Soho. No surprises there I hear you say! Just by chance, some American chaps from the Mid-West stopped by and we spent a few good hours discussing brewing beer, ice-fishing and what is left of the industry in the Mid-West.

One of the chaps was the Production Manager of a small pump manufacturer. Although the pumps were ‘Made in America’, all of the components that went into them were made, and then shipped in, from China.

The reason behind this, of course, was money.

‘Our customers want cheap pumps,’ he said. ‘And that means making them for $15 less than the competition. So that’s what we do.’

Fast forward to today. On to Dyson. And the news that manufacturing of the coloured vacuum cleaners looks set to cease – at least here in the UK.

The reason behind this, of course, is money.

Time to ask some hard questions.

Does it really matter where these things are made, especially considering that most of the component parts are probably made abroad anyway, and we are doing no more than just bolting the bits together here in the UK?

Probably not. No more than it matters where those ‘American made’ pumps are actually ‘made’.

What’s more important is where the ‘intellectual property’ behind a product has been developed and then ultimately exploited.

Many companies in the UK have already woken up – they are smart enough to realise that the actual manufacturing of a product doesn’t count for a hill of beans anymore and that licensing intellectual property is a much better way to make money.

So let’s stop whining on about the death of manufacturing and start talking up the benefits of becoming a country based on educated engineers that can make a living from their own intellectual savvy.

That’s what really matters. Isn’t it?

Agree or disagree? Why not email me your comments atdavid.wilson@mailhost.chiron.co.uk