How Apple Got Screwed Assembling the 2013 Mac Pros in the U.S.

Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times:

But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws, according to three people who worked on the project and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.

In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not.

Tests of new versions of the computer were hamstrung because a 20-employee machine shop that Apple’s manufacturing contractor was relying on could produce at most 1,000 screws a day.

This is a perfect example of how Apple’s China-centered supply chain, built over two decades, is going to be hard to replicate anywhere else in the world — and even if it happens, it’s going to take time.

This part of the story I don’t get:

Another frustration with manufacturing in Texas: American workers won’t work around the clock. Chinese factories have shifts working at all hours, if necessary, and workers are sometimes even roused from their sleep to meet production goals. That was not an option in Texas.

All sorts of industries in the U.S. operate around the clock. Hospitals, police and fire departments, diners, and, yes manufacturing plants. Surely The New York Times itself has staff on duty 24/7/365. My dad spent his entire career, over three decades, working third shift as a train dispatcher for Conrail. There are people in the U.S. who work weekends, who work holidays, and who work overtime. I don’t know how this statement that “Americans won’t work around the clock” passed the Times’s copy desk.

Monday, 28 January 2019