The Land Rover Writer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Manufacturing Auto Parts in the US

I found this link courtesy of an interesting column by David Brooks in today's New York Times. The original piece, a long report in The Atlantic by Adam Davidson, will capture you with its clarity and detail.

Davidson looks at Standard Products, one of the better known aftermarket manufacturers and distributors. He notes that as the chain auto parts retailers like NAPA, Autozone and Carquest dominate their distribution markets, the pressure on manufacturers like Standard mount greatly. 

Also, the precision nature of auto parts continues to grow as engines, transmissions, braking and suspension designs become more interconnected with tighter tolerances. In a defining moment in the article, Davidson interviews a tenacious single mother whose a "level 1" factory worker who doesn't even know what "tolerance" means within an engineering context. Until she can learn that concept, as well as metallurgy, the programming language that controls the robotic machines, and the calculus-level math skills necessary to make the required adjustments, she'll never move up the employment ladder - and likely, neither will her children [post-secondary education is closely linked to the educational achievement level of the family].

Great article and a thoughtful insight into the challenges of producing, maintaining and repairing today's automobiles.