Manufacturing in China

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    This morning as I was driving to work, I heard on the radio that a town in Florida was attempting to limit (radically minimize) the sale of products made in China. This is obviously because of moral and ethical issues, as China has very few standards for workers, is a major polluter and takes business away from North America. I haven't got all the details exactly right and I'm also trying to make a long story short!

    At any rate, I immediately thought of how most of our model railway products are made in China now. I do sort of feel guilty buying Chinese-made products, although I'm sure most model railway manufacturers operate good factories. If I had my way, all of our MR products would still be made in North America ... Hmm, but if they were made here, I bet they'd cost a lot more! :eek:

    There are still a few small companies that produce in North America. :) We also have a few but small companies in Canada that produce model railway items here for Canadian HO trains.

    It seems like almost everything is made in China and I long for the days when manufacturing returns to Canada, the U.S. and Britain, etc. Just wondering if anyone has any insights or comments on this -- I'm sure this is HIGHLY controversial !! :eek: I also think that "what goes around, comes around" and that just maybe, one day, manufacturing will return to North America?


  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    We I saw all those toys that were being recalled, I thought of the cost to those "manufacturers" here that send the stuff to be made in China. Not only the out of pocket costs to recall the products, but now there's the loss of profit on those products plus the loss of confidence by the buying public. My thoughts were that I doubted that the savings they originally made would justify having done that in the first place. The risks of it happening again should be enough to make them want to set up manufacturing here under stricter standards, even if they have to charge a bit more. I think the buying public would be willing to accept that, especially since they would no longer have to worry about parts falling off, lead in the paint, slave labor to product those items and of course, the expense and bother to return something for credit.

    It is really, really hard now days to avoid buying something that's made in China. If you want something, that may be your only choice. Not all products made there are sub-standard, but I really hate to see our jobs and our technology going down the tubes. We will be nations (note plural) without capability to manufacture anything, and that's dangerous to boot.

    I love John Ratzenburger's, "Made in America" show, but it's a pity that we have to have a show that seeks out products made here, there should be so many that it doesn't need a show to highlight them.

    OK, that's my soapbox stand for the day.:wave:
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Companies base themselves, for tax purposes, where it's most advantageous, and likewise, contract-out the work to places where it's most cost effective. Governments in North American, at all levels, tout "global economy", and downplay the loss of manufacturing (and its attendant jobs) by playing up the growth in the technological fields. Manufacturing is not "eco-friendly", so is better done where "we" don't have to deal with the environmental consequences. Unfortunately, many techno jobs are not of the high-paying type that many imagine them to be. Our society has lost or is losing the ability to manufacture consumer goods and also the abilty to pay for domestically-produced consumer goods. In my opinion, large scale manufacturing, such as existed in most of the first-world nations for the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries, will not return here until we become the place with the cheapest labour and the fewest environmental and safety regulations. We have a ways to go before the cycle begins again.

  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Don & Wayne. Good points.

    As you may know, I'm into British model trains and the two main British model railway manufacturers (Hornby & Bachmann) both offer excellent products with great detail. I'd be willing to pay a little more for North American- or British-made products but not a huge amount more. I'm sure it could be done if manufacturer's tried hard enough.

    After hearing about bad labour conditions overseas (i.e., Asia) and how China is such a bad polluter, I sure wish we could start manufacturing products here.

  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Micro-Trains is the only company I can think of that's completely American.

    Isn't Bachmann even owned by a Chinese company?
  6. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I live on both sides of this sword at the same time :). I live in the US and am a citizen, however *ducks the flaming fireballs* i like inexpensive things. I don't think i should have to pay extra for good quality or domestic labor.

    I think as Americans we can provide as good or better quality than most anywhere in the world at similar costs if we wanted to.

    I'll give you a for instance, i went to a meeting today to preview a computer storage device. They could not bring the entire unit in the building because only union "dollies" were allowed, so anything they brought in had to be carried by hand or a union member had to put it on a dolly. The union charge 750$ to bring the unit to the elevator and then into the office on the 36th floor. They were not permitted to put it on the dolly or take it off becuase it was 75 pounds and they were not allowed to lift more thna 40.

    I'm not making this up i couldn't believe it!! i'm not against unions but ... that is a little crazy! I am not sure if everyone is aware that the NMRA had the SAAAAMMMEE issues w/ the unions in philly when the show came here 2 summers ago and they probably aren't bringing the show back because of it.

    On the flip side, china and india have more people and people take advantage of them by paying them nothing..

    we have a technology and financial advantage (for the time being). So they can afford to simply throw people at it, where we will find a way to throw technology at it.

    So what do I do .. i shop at walmart, i save a couple bux when i can, I don't assume american = quality or chinese = crap. I research and find out what the best tool/whateevr is based on user reviews on the internet and consumer reports and this forum!

    When i need a cheap screwdriver i buy a chinese one. When i need quality i research who makes the best, america and germany are neck and neck in screwdrivers.

    I don't care what anyone says .. i'm not giving up my japanese designed chinese manufactured Kato engines!!! They run too well !!! :thumb::mrgreen: I'll buy Atlas so the money stays at least partly in the US :twisted:
  7. bvrailroad

    bvrailroad New Member

    I dont feel in the least bit guilty buying Chinese made items, the reason being the Powers to be in Australia have changed the Industrial Relations Laws, in a few years when they take effect we should be as competitive with the rest of South East Asia, that means we will be working longer hours for less pay, the attitude is if you cant beat them join them.

    I also work in the Pawnbroking industry two days a week, never have I seen so many items that are broken and not worth fixing, some only a few months old, hard to get a decent second hand TV, DVD Player or Digital Camera, they have all sorts of problems and when sold usualy find their way back to the store, I sure hope the Chinese made model train stuff last longer but I have my doubts.
  8. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    yup - that's right :( The union contract says they don't have to lift over 40 lbs :cry::cry: The Phila unions have ruined the chances of a bunch of shows returning to Phila.

    I had a friend at Origins (Gaming) convention about 8 years ago.. The union had to push the carts all through the Convention Center.. they had to set up the tables... they had to plug in any electrical cords your tables used (Lighting, cash registers, etc.) After all the aggravation of having over 600 vendors with 900 tables and only having 60 - 70 union members there.. the CEO of Origins sent a letter out to all the participants stating "Never again" and they moved to Ohio :( :(

    The capitalistic Americans - between medical expenses and payrolls for businesses have forced prices higher, so that they can pay their employees more... Why?? Because prices are higher "out there" so that those business can pay their employees more, so they can afford the prices somewhere else etc etc etc etc........

    So - mostly because of high prices (I'm not union - I really don't make a lot) so, I have no choice, after I pay my car insurance, car payment and utilities - I have no choice but to buy the cheapest items for my few dollars....
  9. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I remember going to a trade show in Chicago. I started to take something out of one of our boxes and the guy asked me if I wanted to shut the show down, and that I would if I lifted a finger to help. Someone came by and asked where our "decorator" was. We said we didn't have one and he said we would since the backdrop had that mat wallpaper on it.

    In Los Angeles, we were allowed to set up our booth without union help if we could do it in 30 minutes or less using one person. I had ours about half up when a union guy came by in an electric cart (I assumed since he had a cart he was "somebody"). He wanted me to take it down completely, then start all over while he watched to see if I did it in less than 30 minutes. I told him I built the damn thing in less than 30 minutes (well, it took almost a week, but I didn't want him to know that), and ran him off. He wasn't happy, but everyone that was watching applauded.... By the way, I designed it so I could put it up myself in less than 30 minutes. It was held together with slip-pin hinges and Velcro.:mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    The point is that we are suppose to be as clever as can be, we've sent men to the moon, we invented the assembly line, we used ingenuity and imagination and hard work to get this country to where it is, and just about every country in the free world can say likewise. We have all turned into a society where greed is good (Gordon Gecko), and one of entitlements. We need to break this gridlock and become nations that are proud to know that everyone that can, will work their butts off to earn their way and they will make sacrifices if that's what it takes to turn things around otherwise we are going to become totally dependent on others to supply our daily needs. We should be ashamed that we are willing to take the easy way out, from the union guy on the convention floor who thinks he'll lose his job if someone else does some work, to the CEO of some major corporation that thinks it's easier to outsource then to spend some time to make it as cheap as and better than the competition.

    Back off my soap box, which was probably made in china using non-union labor...:p :p
  10. Printer

    Printer Member

    I got HORRIBLY Flamed on another group for posting to a topic like this!
    So here goes again.

    The really irritating thought, is that when the huge sucking sound of our jobs going overseas happened, The companies that sent us to the unemployment lines did NOT pass on the cost savings of this newfound cheap labor back to US, the consumer. They DID however take 5 and 6 figure bonus checks for themselves.:curse:
    President Eisenhower warned us when he spoke before congress way back in the 50's. BEWARE of the Military-Industrial Complex taking power and controlling the country. They do not have the best interests of the people in mind. Only how much they can profit. The citizens are mearly a commodity to be manipulated.

    I still have not unpacked my long stored trains from the storage unit but I WILL do everything I can to AVOID buying Chinese made goods. An impossible task at best but I will try. Canadian, US, UK and Euro made items are what I will be on the lookout for. I survived living in Detroit in the 80's with 40% unemployment and the Japanese autos putting my neighbor into the bread lines. I refuse to buy a new or foreign made car to this day. And I'll hear that Toyota is an American car. NO IT IS NOT!. It's Japanese!!! Or perhaps that a Ford isn't? FoMoCo World HQ still sits along the Southfield Freeway in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

    60¢ of every american dollar is held by overseas business and governments. We just don't print more when we run short and their pile keeps getting bigger. Pretty soon, Chairman Mao will be on our shores wanting to buy Florida. "You want you money back? Gimme' Florida we give back some dollars."
    Since when did we start dealing with Communists? The EVIL EMPIRE people. I can't go to Cuba for vacation because it's a Communist Dictatorship! Well, so is Red China a Communist Dictatorship, but I can go visit the great wall and spend all the greenbacks I have there with the blessing of my government. Sheeeeesh!!!! Make up your mind!wall1

    Am I a Bigot? Perhaps. But I want more for my Children and Grandchildren besides them asking, "would you like fries with that?"

    Time for me to De De. I'll stop here and pack more sandbags around the hooch while I wait for the InComing!!!

    Sheesh, politics pushes my buttons.
  11. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    I think some of the stuff said are more out of patriotism than anything else. I mean, the Japanese make FABULOUS cars, that are super light on petrol, which is getting rare- not like those American cars, with a V8 cylinder engine, of old.

    I really don't think Mattel lost so much money, what does a Barbie doll cost you guys?, $20 bucks? It probably doesn't even cost them a Dollar. I hear that Toys R Us locally can throw anything defective away without even blinking an eye.

    I think that there are quite a few Asian items which rivals the worlds best. Someone outside Asia, invents something and they better it. You know, even your McDonalds burger wrappers are printed in Taiwan.

    It's a pity that such clever people, in my opinion some of the worlds smartest, are held back. I don't think it's possible to get something fully made in the US or Europe- one needs parts from somewhere (in whatever stage of the process) to make something.

    Now what I'm about to say is going to probably make me very infamous and unliked, but I truly believe that China, or some other Asian country, is the next world leader. They are "helping" parts of Africa out, they have their hand in all of the world's cookie jars too. Nobody just helps someone out for free with Millions of our currencies.

    If one studies history you'll see that every nation gets a chance to be powerful.

    Israelites, Romans, Gauls (counting todays time that makes twice- Germany), Greeks, Egyptians, Parts of Asia, England and finally the current one- United States of America. All, except England and America have fallen into nothingness just about- I mean, $1 buys like a million whatever the Italians' currency is. They joined Europe to use one currency, because I think some of the currencies were like a Zimbabwian Dollar- Better to use the money as toilet paper than to go buy some.

    Look to Asia, I think big stuff is going to happen, Korea North with their new missiles, etc.

    Sorry if you got offended, this is what I feel. ANd on a lighter note:...

    As a matter of interest Tri-ang produced some of their trains in South Africa, Austrailia and New Zealand. We also once had a South African guy producing LGB, flex track not too many years ago.
  12. bvrailroad

    bvrailroad New Member

    If this wasnt so serious it would be laughable, every thing I buy is made in China or some other remote Asian country, if you dont buy it you just have to go without.

    We in Australia have seen most of our manufacturing move to China, even buying Australian Made is a joke with so many components getting produced in China, I dont think anything is totaly local made so indirectlly we are buying Chinese.

    What worries me is not buying a model loco made in China but food that seems to be making its way into our country.
    Many times I have picked up biscuits/cookies and other items that were locally made but now made in China.

    I pass the Chinese food products bought by mistake to my next door neighbour, she eats everything, the theory is if she gets sick its most likely the imported food I gave her which I refuse to eat, I guess it could be likened to some historic King and his food tester.

    Like it or not we are stuck with Chinese products, no good moaning nothing will change, maybe as others have said it may be like the Middle Eastern billionaires buying everything worthwhile in England, so much for National pride, they sold most of it.

    Not prepared to get involved with the political side of things except to say one day all this may come back to bite us on the backside.
  13. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The debate...not always politically correct...but truly important.

    At the core of this discussion is: what is a fair wage?

    The concept behind unions is that there is a low demand for labor...but a high they'll force the employer to give them above-market pay. (min wage is the same way). This causes a problem when the unions push too hard...and either cause companies to stagnate or run in the red. The other issue is when the focus on "protecting jobs" which badly hurts them in the long term.

    The other issue is productivity per person.

    I find it interesting how Honda pays its workers better than GM or Ford. I say this because I know people whom work for both companies...and the Hondo employees are happier. Honda doesn't have to deal with union rules...or their employees can produce more...and they don't need to out source to Mexico. This isn't because unions are bad, but rather because their leaders are short sighted/cling to the old ways.

    In order for an economy to need to produce more goods and services. The only real way for the US (and I presume Canada as well) to do this is to be more efficient with the help of technology. One clerk at my grocery store can operate 4 u-scan aisles at once...which relates to approximately twice as much productivity from her. That means that either A) Kroger can keep their prices lower, B) Kroger can pay her more to keep her from switching to Meijer, or C) Kroger will invest more in building new stores and other fields...the rich only get richer if they're investing their money...which provides more jobs & this raises wages.

    Look at the world we live in today. Material was the most expensive cost of doing business 100 years can tell by looking at railroads...wood construction...truss bridges...high maintenance equipment....while the now days it is the labor...big, thick bridges, lower maintenance equipment, etc... I can produce 1000 sprockets today if I'm monitoring a machine as opposed to 1 if I'm doing it by hand. That's why our homes are larger and we have more toys.

    A good example of this would be the american industrial machine of the 1940s & 50s relative to today. We had old, massive, lower efficiency steel mills. When then, through the Marshall Plan, helped europe and japan re-equip themselves with state-of-the-art facilities which allowed them to offer products considerable cheaper than what we could do...since their wages were lower (much lower in Japan) and the factories were newer. The American companies that survived also built state of the art facilities...and equaled their new competition. Japan was transformed from a corrupt, cottage industry-based nation into a modern country with a western constitution and rabid interest in copying the US. Mr. Toyoda was dazzled by GM & Ford's factories...and came up with a couple small improvements in order to took 30yrs...but they started succeeding after the gas shortages of the 1970's.

    South Korea & Taiwan had similar rises to Japan...with pro-western mindsets and dramatically reduced corruption problems using the US/western model.

    China has several huge problems. If you check the numbers...they are still a third world country...although it is a huge third world country with a growing middle class that lives not all that differently from the west. But, they have horrible corruption problems and haven't figured out the quality aspects that helped Japan succeed. They are taught from youth that they are the Middle Kingdom and are rising up to reassert their worldwide dominance. I have many Chinese friends...some believe this...but most become overwhelmed by American after 6-months and discard the Middle Kingdom belief. Further, the Chinese gov't has been playing a dangerous game with the exchange rate...there is a good chance that they'll push their country into a deep recession if the currency is re-evaluated accurately.

    I do not want our gov't to interfere with the private sector as to where things are produced. I want tariffs to accurately level the playing field (since China's currency is undervalued)...and I want them to continue making military items 100% domestic (which I regard Canadian, Aussy, and British things as siblings). I don't want to subsidize manufacturing jobs...I want the manufacturing companies to modernize themselves. I personally would like our manufacturing to be almost entirely automated...with the former blue collar workers trading in their white collars for higher pay. China & India have enormous disadvantages in this well basically own huge chunks of their countries. I know people are fearful of their growing wealth...but if you check the numbers...they have a very long way to go...they are very far being able to.

    I think that when the wages in China rise...but if the corruption remains...we'll see a shift to other countries...and China will not be reaching the 1st world in any of our lifetimes. If I can produce a comparable quality sprocket for 1/2 the price in a different country...I'm moving it there. Unfortunately for many countries such as China, there are many philosophical issues which greatly impair science which the gov't pushes...which deny the connection between theory & practice...which will hold them back even if they have 50 engineers for every engineer elsewhere in the world. Japan has some of this...Japan has twice the population of the UK...but less scientific output. They're just darn good at coping and practicing high QA/QC standards.
  14. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    Go Kato haha. Its unfortunate that China has so few regulations
  15. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i did not read all the replys, so sorry if this is a repeat.

    i was looking at one of my Williams boxcar box's, it says "parts made in America" "assembled and painted in china"

    so they paid to have the parts made here, then paid someone to package it up, then pay to ship it to the dock workers. who get paid to load the parts on a ship, then they pay to ship it on a ship. then pay to unload that ship in china, and pay there truck drivers. then pay them to paint and put them together . then to box it all up again. then pay for them to ship to there docks again and there dock workers, and the ship and our dock workers and our truck drivers, then they pay people at there warehouse to fill orders and box and ship it to dealers ,

    they pay all of that and its still not cheaper to make it all in the USA?

    no wonder MR'ing costs me so much!
  16. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I remember when everything had a little lead in it. I guess my mother was smart and wouldn't let me eat my toys.

    I don't mind buying from China I read a very detailed report and their workers that mfg O scale trains work in better conditions than most of my friends. It was in the OGR mag a few months ago.

    I'm not going to complain most of my stuff goes over seas for a good price more than Americans want to pay for it. I expect when China's economy gets stronger manufacturing will move to another Eastern Rim Country. Who knows it may some day be in Africa.
  17. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    You know I gave this subject some more though through my family time lime. I think my Great, Great Grand Father would of said something like this. I don't know why all the good toys are made in England and France when we have all of these tree over here. Then my Great Grand Father would of had to put with his toys coming from Germany. He might of thought that will all the coal flowing from the hills we would of had the advantage.

    My Grandfather would of had it the best with most all toys being made in the United States. Though I'm not too sure he thought so much about all the mercury being dumped into the water back then.I can still hear my Dad complaining about the cheap Japanese stuff and that cheap white metal. You know the metal that broke if you bent it just a little.

    So today it is China and tomorrow it will be another company. We pay the price for wanting a living wage when the rest of the world is just happy to have one meal a day.

    I don't complain that much. I just do what it takes to make sure we have a good life, food on the table and enough for my toys. That might mean working longer days and longer weeks but I still don't work as hard as my Great, Great Grandfather had to.

    I would like to think it is a good thing that some people in China can make it through life like my family has for all of these years.

  18. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Whoaw whoaw whoaw, Africa is not that far east, we're in the middle.

    That would depend on what country in Africa these things get made.

    Aye, if it was made in South Africa the guys would be striking all the time wanting a pay increase. Other countries in Africa have it as bad or even worse than China.

    As stated in an earlier post, there were a few things made in the past by an old company Tri-ang (To cut a long story short: There was once Wrenn, Tri-ang and Hornby, Hornby absorbed them all as have they with Lima, Jouef, etc.) in South Africa and a local gentleman used to produce G scale flex track, so we have the potential.
  19. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Generally, it seems to be much easier to make kits here...but assembling parts requires labor...which makes China far cheaper.

    Since I prefer to scratch build most of my stuff...nearly everything I buy is made in the USA. Craftsman kits (the stuff that helped me transition to scratch) are usually made here as well. Unfortunately, US casting rules require space it's almost impossible to perform certain types of casting here. I know that Precision Scale lost a bunch of masters around 4 years ago when a company in China that was going to cast their parts disappeared along with many of the masters.

    For some reason I suspect that Made in South Africa won't be replacing Made in I thought SA had a much higher standard of living...which translates to much higher wages.
  20. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Exacateley :mrgreen:

    We are a democratic country.

    You do know that under China it says made by Chuck Norris though?

Share This Page