Steve Jobs wanted ultra-optimized US manufacturing, Apple vets say

Posted:
in General Discussion
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was, for a time, deadset on U.S.-based manufacturing of computers, an effort which collapsed after just eight years.

A factory in Milpitas, Calif., circa 1984.
A factory in Milpitas, Calif., circa 1984.


Jobs had "deep convictions" about Japanese-style manufacturing, according to Randy Battat, who told the New York Times about his time as an electrical engineer at Apple and helping to launch early laptops. The company established U.S.-based Macintosh manufacturing in the early 1980s, beginning with a heavily automated factory in Fremont, Calif.

"The Japanese were heralded as wizards of manufacturing," Battat explained. "The idea was to create a factory with just-in-time delivery of zero-defect parts. It wasn't great for business."

In fact the result was "really shameful" and slipshod, said Jean-Louis Gassee, a French office automation specialist who became president of Apple's product division in 1988, well after Jobs' departure. He blamed the issue at least in part on overall deficiencies in U.S. infrastructure.

"We don't have a manufacturing culture," Gassee complained, "meaning the substrate, the schooling, the apprentices, the subcontractors."

President Donald Trump and others have urged companies like Apple to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Decades of corporate offshoring have drained the country of its capabilities in that area however, and higher labor, safety, and environmental standards would likely increase Apple's expenses and already high pricetags. The company has nevertheless done some U.S. manufacturing in the post-Jobs era, namely building the cylindrical Mac Pro in a factory in Austin.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    I just don't see mass production of any Apple product coming to the US anytime soon. Tax deals aren't going to do it. We need to build and train our workforce too and I think it would cost way too much to build a fully automated assembly building today in the US and make it work accurately and efficiently at the same time. I know people hate that things like this are made in China but there's more to it than "Its just cheap labor". 
    Andy.Hardwakeracerhomie3
  • Reply 2 of 39
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    edited December 2018 docno42rissracerhomie3iolinux333macplusplusseanjaknabihammeroftruthjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 39
    sirozha said:
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    I would love to see any data that actually backs up your claims. 
    viclauyycbonobobmuthuk_vanalingamcwingravravnorodomjony0
  • Reply 4 of 39
    danoxdanox Posts: 360member
    What data do you need? Other than Germany, most of the western countries (particularity the English speaking ones) are in the process of quitting, (have been since the 1970's) if Apple with 100's of billions being flushed down the buyout drain can't invest natively who will.
    edited December 2018 caladanian
  • Reply 5 of 39
    sirozha said:
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    We’re already too fat. Seriously, though. Companies hire the best. Period. We don’t even have an adequate school infrastructure. This is what happens when you have 10x the amount of money pouring into the military. You leave nothing for educating the masses. The irony about Indians is that they modeled their school system after our public system of the 60’s & 70’s. 
    lostkiwiviclauyycpropodcaladaniansteveau
  • Reply 6 of 39
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,270member
    https://discoverpraxis.com
    http://profoundlydisconnected.com

    Until we see a balance of more stuff like the above it's only going to get worse.  For over 50 years we have denigrated those who don't go off to college to be properly indoctrinated and then wonder why when politics is put above all else we are loosing our edge?
    dewmelostkiwijbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 39
    When I was certifying with the American Production and Inventory Control Society, we were taught that W. Edward Deming taught the principles of Statistical Process Control to Japanese scientists and engineers when American manufacturers, flush from victories in WWII, were arrogantly unenthusiastic about applying SPC to our own factories. That was between 1945 and 1950, though the principles of SPC were known here since the 1920's. You might say they took somethng we invented and discarded, then spanked us with it over the sixty plus years.
    macseekerlostkiwimacplusplusSpamSandwichsteveaudocno42
  • Reply 8 of 39
    When I was certifying with the American Production and Inventory Control Society, we were taught that W. Edward Deming taught the principles of Statistical Process Control to Japanese scientists and engineers when American manufacturers, flush from victories in WWII, were arrogantly unenthusiastic about applying SPC to our own factories. That was between 1945 and 1950, though the principles of SPC were known here since the 1920's. You might say they took somethng we invented and discarded, then spanked us with it over the sixty plus years.
    That plus the school system this days doesn't teach the necessary 3 R's anymore.  The kids can't think right these days.  Plus these days the school systems are in the esoteric touchy feely subjects that absolutely have no use what so ever in the REAL world.
    macplusplusSpamSandwichjbdragondocno42
  • Reply 9 of 39
    These are two interesting clips about Apple’s manufacturing process in Fremont and also Next’s process:
    https://youtu.be/sT6aphdX0rI

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk306ZkNOuc
    edited December 2018
  • Reply 10 of 39
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,894member
    I agree 100% with Mr Gassee’s assessment about the failure of manufacturing culture in the US. I would unfortunately lump the failure of manufacturing culture in the same growing crop of failures that are cultivated from a society that is struggling to cultivate a collective sense of purpose around things that matter to the greater good of the majority of members of a society. This has little to do with money, outsourcing, or military spending, or the quality of the educational system. The US owns and lives in a society that reflects its cultural values. Wanting skilled manufacturing jobs to come back to the US is one thing, but not investing in a coherent strategy to fill those jobs with qualified workers is total incompetence. Just in time manufacturing, best practices like Toyota Production System, Lean, six sigma, etc., requires skilled workers. Automation is great for replacing low skill and repetitive jobs with machines. In modern manufacturing operations, every worker needs to be a knowledge worker, not just in IT positions, but on the factory floor. 

    edited December 2018 hammeroftruth
  • Reply 11 of 39
    The idea that Apple products cannot be produced in the US because we lack a “manufacturing culture” is just nonsense. In China you have people who were working farms moving into cities to produce iPhones. There was no grooming from childhood to create a skilled workforce.

    What was created was a process and a system to turn components into phones. It can be done anywhere it’s just a question of profitability and margins.


    atomic101hammeroftruthwatto_cobradocno42
  • Reply 12 of 39
    sirozha said:
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    Who can you blame? It is the American corporations who move the production to Asia in the beginning. You just can’t blame the asian/Chinese who learn fast. Corporations looks for profit and cheap labor. Social responsibility is not important.

    It is the American education system that cause the shortage of doctor and IT professional in US. Look how much money it will cost a family to put a child in med school or maybe just university.

    It will be super easy for Apple/Foxconn to triple iPhone production in China in few days. It will takes months for Apple to do the same in US. And years to fired the people they don’t need. 
  • Reply 13 of 39
    The idea that Apple products cannot be produced in the US because we lack a “manufacturing culture” is just nonsense. In China you have people who were working farms moving into cities to produce iPhones. There was no grooming from childhood to create a skilled workforce.

    What was created was a process and a system to turn components into phones. It can be done anywhere it’s just a question of profitability and margins.


    I read the NY Times article yesterday and I was under the impression that the quote about “manufacturing culture” was referring to Silicon Valley and not the US as a whole. I think they were contrasting Silicon Valley vs the northeastern states.
  • Reply 14 of 39
    The kack of a manufacturing culture isn’ just a US thing. When I left university in 1978 in the UK it was easy to get a job in electronics manufacturing but gradually over my 40+ year working life companies failed to keep up investment in people and equipment so economics dictated that manufacturing moved to countries with lots of cheap labour. Result?  - skilled engineers unable to get a job that paid a decent salary so they left engineering to join service industries.
    hammeroftruth
  • Reply 15 of 39
    The factory in Fremont was state of the art back in the 80"s that Apple use to have bus tours stop by the plant to see what was being done. Even the Japanese use to come to the US and request tours of the Apple Plant at the time they were even impressed with that Apple was doing. The Apple Singapore plant was almost lights off manufacturing, they had so much automations the labor force was almost non-existent.

    The problem with automation at this level, it become costly to always update as new products and designs come down the pike. Apple manufacturing at the time had a very low labor content, but had high capital expense.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    mac_dog said:
    sirozha said:
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    We’re already too fat. Seriously, though. Companies hire the best. Period. We don’t even have an adequate school infrastructure. This is what happens when you have 10x the amount of money pouring into the military. You leave nothing for educating the masses. The irony about Indians is that they modeled their school system after our public system of the 60’s & 70’s. 
    As person who worked for companies who hired lots of H1B, i can tell you its not about hiring the best talent, it about hiring the lowest cost. H1B do not command the same salary as their US counter parts. Many times instead of sponsoring and H1B since only so many can be sponsored each year the companies I worked for would just outsource to these foreign countries and hire lots of people locally and 25% the US wage.  Also as person who has seen lots of H1B resumes and interview a fair number of them, they are not as well educated as the US counter parts. I will give you one example since this is what I had the most experience with. I would get resumes of people who had an education in Electronics Engineering or the close equivalent, most all these people had no experience in electronic, most their experience was in power but they will sit across you from you and tell you they could design and test digital circuits. They had no clue what they were talking about, but they did not stop them from claiming their could do they job, I give they credit for the positive attitude, but these people were replacing people who have real experience.


    hammeroftruth1st
  • Reply 17 of 39
    If Toyota can train Americans (in Alabama of all places) to produce high quality cars then surely Apple can do the same with its devices.

    All good comments above.

    Just a couple of thoughts: 65,000 American factories moved overseas in the last 30 years or so. Gutting the middle class. (Short-term CEO's didn't care China was stealing IP.)

    Having said this, I had a friend who worked for Ford all his life at a dealership. in 1968 he ordered a new Mustang from the factory. When it arrived, there was a rattling noise in the passenger door. He removed the inside door panel to find an empty glass Coke bottle. On a whim, he removed the driver's side door panel. Yep, you guessed it! He found another empty glass Coke bottle. Anecdotal, I know, but it's one of the reasons Executive Management moved plants overseas. 

    My CEO dad used to say, a window washer making a $11/hr., does not want to pay an auto-worker $36/hr. to make his car. That was in the late 70's.

  • Reply 18 of 39
    The government makes it all too easy for companies to outsource to H1B employees.  In my arena of software engineering, I see job descriptions for a very senior person like myself (30+ years) and a salary that is less than half of what I am worth.  They do this intentionally, as no one at my level would ever think of working for that salary, or even applying for that job.  The company can then claim that there are no American workers available to do the work, and they need an H1B to fulfill that position, as they are the only ones that would even consider working for that amount.  The problem with that, as @maestro pointed out, is that they lie to get a job that they really aren't qualified for, or at the very least, have nowhere near the experience level actually needed, but claim they do.

    The law needs to be changed to force companies to advertise and then pay a fair market rate for a particular position, and I'll bet that half or more of the H1B people wouldn't be needed anymore.  There are plenty of skilled workers in this country to fill pretty much all of the positions, but we like to get paid what our training and experience have earned us.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    mac_dog said:
    sirozha said:
    My town is inundated with H1B-visa Indians who have replaced 50% or more of American IT personnel. About 35% of doctors are Indian on H1B visas. They have pushed Americans out of the jobs here, and these are not manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech and medical jobs. As a result, housing prices are  through the roof. These temporary Indians are buying several houses each on interest-only loans, knowing full well that they are going to have to leave within 5-6 years and can simply abandon their houses (if the market turns down) with no consequences. Their monthly mortgage payments are significantly lower than apartment rentals because of the ARM-type loans that they take out.  In the meantime, they are collecting rents on the multiple houses that they purchased with no credit history and no permanent status here. How can a temporary worker buy a house in the US on a mortgage is beyond comprehension. We have not learned anything from the 2009 housing crash. 

    If we don't want to manufacture anything, we don't want to build anything, we don't want to work in agriculture, we don't want to study sciences, we don't want to work as engineers, we don't want to be doctors, what the hell are we good for? Are we going to be pigs for the rest of the world to raise until we get fat enough to be slaughtered? 

    We can have robotic factories built in the US and train our citizens to maintain and program robots. If we don't know how to do this, let's invite Chinese, Japanese, and Germans to help us out, pay them handsomely, and learn how to make our own crap efficiently by leveraging the latest robotic technologies for manufacturing. This could not be done three decades ago, but with the advance of technology, it is now possible. 
    We’re already too fat. Seriously, though. Companies hire the best. Period. We don’t even have an adequate school infrastructure. This is what happens when you have 10x the amount of money pouring into the military. You leave nothing for educating the masses. The irony about Indians is that they modeled their school system after our public system of the 60’s & 70’s. 
    Are you seriously suggesting that countries like China and India spend more on their education system than the United States does? It isn't the money, it is the model. Good luck trying to teach to any sort of mastery in the United States or even trying to fail a student. Since PBIS good luck even trying to discipline a child for profoundly terrible behavior that stops not just their own education, but the education of all others.
    macseeker said:
    When I was certifying with the American Production and Inventory Control Society, we were taught that W. Edward Deming taught the principles of Statistical Process Control to Japanese scientists and engineers when American manufacturers, flush from victories in WWII, were arrogantly unenthusiastic about applying SPC to our own factories. That was between 1945 and 1950, though the principles of SPC were known here since the 1920's. You might say they took somethng we invented and discarded, then spanked us with it over the sixty plus years.
    That plus the school system this days doesn't teach the necessary 3 R's anymore.  The kids can't think right these days.  Plus these days the school systems are in the esoteric touchy feely subjects that absolutely have no use what so ever in the REAL world.
    All the Common Core curriculum has been terrible. Gloss over everything and learn almost nothing.
    dewmedocno42
  • Reply 20 of 39
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,894member
    maestro64 said:
    As person who worked for companies who hired lots of H1B, i can tell you its not about hiring the best talent, it about hiring the lowest cost. H1B do not command the same salary as their US counter parts. Many times instead of sponsoring and H1B since only so many can be sponsored each year the companies I worked for would just outsource to these foreign countries and hire lots of people locally and 25% the US wage.  Also as person who has seen lots of H1B resumes and interview a fair number of them, they are not as well educated as the US counter parts. I will give you one example since this is what I had the most experience with. I would get resumes of people who had an education in Electronics Engineering or the close equivalent, most all these people had no experience in electronic, most their experience was in power but they will sit across you from you and tell you they could design and test digital circuits. They had no clue what they were talking about, but they did not stop them from claiming their could do they job, I give they credit for the positive attitude, but these people were replacing people who have real experience.

    Behavior follows rewards. Companies have become remarkably adept at finding every conceivable way to reduce their operating costs, minimize liability exposure, and maximize shareholder value. This is simply how capitalism works. Companies work in tandem with lawmakers and policy makers (via lobbyists) to ensure that their needs are always being satisfied. Line workers are simply the human capital and meat based machinery that helps to keep the profits flowing. However, direct labor related costs are only one part of the equation and are by no means the only reason why companies outsource to other countries.

    I'm always uncomfortable with people going after the individuals who are trying to improve their lot in life by taking advantage of programs like H1B. I have a lot of respect for people with drive and initiative. Blame for destructive policies should be placed on those who create and implement the policies, not those who are trying to make a living. Yeah, those workers who are being replaced due to high salaries, age, diminishing skills, or any other factors that companies deem to impact their bottom line (whether legal or not) are also in a bad place. Unfortunately, unless you or your mom or dad own the company, you are just another chicken in the slaughterhouse, and what good is solidarity among chickens when your collective fates are predetermined by the system, which in this case is capitalism itself? Everyone loves it when it the system works in their favor, but when the tables are turned, you're going to lose your feathers, and your head.

    edited December 2018
Sign In or Register to comment.