Is it true we cant make a screw at a competitive price?
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    Default Is it true we cant make a screw at a competitive price?

    There is an article in today's NYT about Apple attempting to make computers here- and how they couldnt get locally made screws.
    Like most of this type of article, its written by somebody who doesnt really understand what they are writing about- so it leaves out a lot of the crucial facts.

    But it seems to imply that, in relatively small quantities (30,000 pieces) they simply could not get a screw made in Texas. The shop they eventually used, Caldwell Manufacturing, could not make the exact screw that they have no problem getting customs of in China.

    My guess is that is was pentalobe head, which would require a particular small broach- but I dont know that for sure.

    But the overall point of the article is that in China, not only can you get anything you want made, you can get it quickly, cheaply, and changed to order right away.

    I know that, in the seventies, when I worked in the loudspeaker manufacturing business, there were plants in Chicago that would make any part we wanted, and ship us customs within 2 weeks for most things. That capacity long ago moved to China.

    But that was relatively more complicated stuff- custom stampings, custom cast magnets, or nonwoven fabric parts felted over custom molds.

    This article is about simple flathead screws.
    If we really cant make those- we ARE in trouble.


    A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be ‘Assembled in U.S.A.’ - The New York Times

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    I had a custom shoulder bolt produced in lower than low volume for industry (200) and it cost about the same as buying the closest thing at a distributor.

    If they can't get a screw made they're the problem I'm guessing.

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    Isn't 30K next to nothing? If they were serious about making product in America wouldn't it be closer to 30M than 30K?

    What kind of tax breaks do Apple supplies get I China? I remember hearing something about big players essentially getting their material for free from the Commie Govt.

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    I do think there is more to this than we can know. The quick turn around has been established in China and it was in part how outside investment and trade encouraged that environment. So Vietnam and India have advanced manufacturing now much closer to the capabilities of China? Do I smell a rat or does it not seem that Apple may just want to move manufacturing now given this grand problem?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoke View Post
    Isn't 30K next to nothing? If they were serious about making product in America wouldn't it be closer to 30M than 30K?

    What kind of tax breaks do Apple supplies get I China? I remember hearing something about big players essentially getting their material for free from the Commie Govt.
    It's a MacBook, an outdated overpriced piece of equipment that due to no updates in 6 years doesn't sell like iPhones (never did and never will). So no, it wouldn't get to 30M units a year.

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    Sounds like Apple propaganda. I'll bet Apple can make virtually any company turn somersaults, bow and lick their shoes at their command at the prospect of getting/keeping any of their business. That Chinese company making 50M screws and other assorted parts for them will give them anything they want (or else), whereas they walk into a random us-shop and say I want 30K of these custom screws for the same price I can get them from Foxconn in China. Apple isn't comparing apples to apples.

    The consumer apparently doesn't mind paying ultra-high profits to Apple, facilitated by their low-wage labor and sourcing "model".

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    Thank you for making me aware of this article Ries. For some reason it was not in our NYT this morning. Rather the main article on Technology was about Lyft. Maybe because we get the west coast edition and Lyft is headquartered in San Francisco. Is there a Pacific Northwest edition?

    David

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinit View Post
    I do think there is more to this than we can know. The quick turn around has been established in China and it was in part how outside investment and trade encouraged that environment. So Vietnam and India have advanced manufacturing now much closer to the capabilities of China? Do I smell a rat or does it not seem that Apple may just want to move manufacturing now given this grand problem?
    I'll bet Apple don't want to have to pay import duties for stuff from China.

    Sort of like H1-B applications "We can't possibly find anyone here in the US of A that can doo this here job"

    When in actuality, they can't find anyone that will work that cheaply in the USA.

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    You would find it interesting the workers they had with Apple. Generally they do not want to speak of their experiences working there. They do not want the possible complications. They have moved on and are at peace over a job which did not work out. Seeing this article which I do think there are some problems and yet Apple maybe missed the best choice to produce those screws. Maybe they do not want to really move anything here. Set up to fail is a major thing which we all watch out for here and it is played on many levels up high and down low.

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    Quote Originally Posted by car2 View Post
    Sounds like Apple propaganda. I'll bet Apple can make virtually any company turn somersaults, bow and lick their shoes at their command at the prospect of getting/keeping any of their business. That Chinese company making 50M screws and other assorted parts for them will give them anything they want (or else), whereas they walk into a random us-shop and say I want 30K of these custom screws for the same price I can get them from Foxconn in China. Apple isn't comparing apples to apples.

    The consumer apparently doesn't mind paying ultra-high profits to Apple, facilitated by their low-wage labor and sourcing "model".
    Personally I do not want to buy more Apple because it is so expensive for anything and never finance stuff on their credit card vendors. You can not pay them enough. I am tired of the merry go round.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerritv View Post
    It's a MacBook, an outdated overpriced piece of equipment that due to no updates in 6 years doesn't sell like iPhones (never did and never will). So no, it wouldn't get to 30M units a year.

    Actually, its a Mac Pro- thats a cylindrical tower computer, not a laptop. Its the Apple product that costs the most, and sells the least, and the only one made in the USA.
    It sells very few units, which is why they needed so few screws.
    And thus, the one they tried to manufacture at home.
    The problem, as described by the owner of the machine shop, is that the volume producers moved offshore, and his higher tech, higher priced shop, could not make the exact screw needed, even at a much higher per piece price.
    As i understand it, they accepted a less than spec screw, rather than try to import cheaper ones from China.

    The point being that while they could, eventually, find a US producer of similar but not identical quality, the US still couldnt compete with China.
    This was an intentional attempt to manufacture entirely in the US, mostly for propaganda and job creation reasons, not an attempt to make the most profitable, cost efficient product possible.

    Theoretically, if the moved ALL production to the USA, they could convince a screw manufacturer tor retool to make what they needed- but not for this tiny volume.

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    I would have thought they might design the product to suit readily available screws.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I would have thought they might design the product to suit readily available screws.
    Haven’t dealt much with industrial designers lately have you?

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    A breath of fresh air ... This thread is.
    Thanks Ries!

    Now, to the topic.
    The screw problem notwithstanding ( though I am reasonably sure that a dingy little shop in the basement of a building near by could produce those screws in 'bout a few hours ),
    what did catch my attention is this:

    “The skill here is just incredible,” Mr. Cook said at a conference in China in late 2017. Making Apple products requires state-of-the-art machines and lots of people who know how to run them, he said.

    “In the U.S., you could have a meeting of tooling engineers and I’m not sure we could fill the room,” he said. “In China, you could fill multiple football fields.”

    I was under the impression that the primary reason for outsourcing was a change to a more service and engineering oriented economy.
    Didn't work out too well it seems.

    And then there is this gem from one of the commenters:

    Just ask yourself this: is it actually a good thing to be the best place in the world to produce every good and service on the planet? Is that even possible? Do we want the US to be a place that designs computers as well as manufactures the tiny screws that are used in their assembly? Do you even know someone who wants their kids to grow up to produce tiny screws? No person lives their own lives trying to do everything for themself. Instead we train to be good at one thing we like and are naturally skilled at and then rely on others to produce the other goods and services we consume. Nobody wants to be a lawyer and also grow her own vegetables and make her own phone. Countries are just collections of people and should be thought of in the same way.
    Mr. Baldwin from NY kinda sheds some light on the attitudes and possible problems we're facing, and it's sure as hell ain't China's fault!

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I would have thought they might design the product to suit readily available screws.
    You evidently have never taken an Iphone apart. The first fasteners that you remove to take an Iphone apart are likely unique to an Iphone. And so what? If your ordering fastenrs by the millions you can specify any thread, any head, any drive you want, and pay no more than a standard of equivalent size.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I'll bet Apple don't want to have to pay import duties for stuff from China.

    Sort of like H1-B applications "We can't possibly find anyone here in the US of A that can doo this here job"

    When in actuality, they can't find anyone that will work that cheaply in the USA.
    You know it could be the equipment and expertise were not a good match for that job. I would trust since for so long now China has built up and stepped up for Apple at very low cost. The quality of the end product likely is produced on great equipment which is probably state of the art. I would like to find out what critter type of screw it is and more detail.

    We have some very knowledgeable people on producing these. Perhaps Apple has been so well cared for that they do not like waiting for a guck emergency run. I can understand that. It may require more lead time of maybe a vendor who is better suited to supply. I know anyone would try to get and keep their business in Texas.

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    The whole story is a carefully constructed statement of the supposed superiority of any and all Apple products,and targeted squarely at the morons who form lines outside the shops waiting for the latest piece of grossly overpriced hype.

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    Its the bit further down the article were you can't force thousands of workers to work nights at a drop of a hat that says a lot more about the true issues IMHO than focusing on a screw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    Mr. Baldwin from NY kinda sheds some light on the attitudes and possible problems we're facing, and it's sure as hell ain't China's fault!
    Ironically, that guy sounds like a giant tool. Hell yes I wish I could do my own legal work, had time/space for a garden and could manufacture my own phone.

    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    Its the bit further down the article were you can't force thousands of workers to work nights at a drop of a hat that says a lot more about the true issues IMHO than focusing on a screw.
    Agreed.

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    As well noted above, there's a great deal more here than meets the eye.

    Also, my understanding is that apple's fasteners are unique on purpose - part of their scheme to force all repairs/replacements to come through their shops, force all replacement parts to give them profit, etc. (Not unique to apple.)


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