A disturbing post here, the crux of which is that it is no longer viable to “mesh atoms” in New Zealand.

Unfortunately the growing and value adding of Merino fibre, the production of milk and the manufacturing of world leading hockey goalie protection all falls within the definition of “meshing atoms”.

If none of these are viable any longer – lets all go jump off a cliff because, at the end of the day, for all the knowledge wave, added value, design led stuff we can do – New Zealand still needs, in part, to gain GDP from “meshing atoms”, we just need to learn how to do it better, more efficiently and at higher margin.

Oh, by the way, Cactus manufactures 100% in NZ and is crash hot to boot!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Ben

    My argument was around relying on cost competitiveness as the sole mechanism for defending manufacturing.

    Given the title of the post was “Manufacturing is Dead, Long Live Manufacturing” I do question the idea that it was a call to jump off the cliff. The call to action at the end of the article is to start innovating and play the game by rules that we could better control (cost is not a mechanism we can sensibly control).

  • Great – as states over on your blog – this is my passion and raison d’etre – to help other businesses build their capability so that they can grow and become world class. It’s what I do in my own businesses, on the businesses that I consult to and those whom I mentor!

  • As co-ounder of Idealog magazine I have to confess that my bias is towards the importance of diversifying the New Zealand economy in order to reduce our reliance on ‘meshing atoms’. In fact one of the motivations for shifting our focus from developing an advertising and marketing publication to focusing on the Creative Economy was the foot & mouth disease hoax (remember the Waiheke Island threat?). The crisis put into a very sharp contrast in my mind the vulnerability of the NZ economy.

    Some research showed that the economy of the United States, for example, is very balanced. Their export receipts are dominated by copyrights, licenses and patents. Shifting ideas and innovations – often via bytes, rather than atoms (It is worth reading Nicholas Negroponte’s book Being Digital and Dan Pink’s A whole new mind).

    Because of our size and geographic location we always have and always will find it difficult to compete with physical goods.
    That is not to say we shouldn’t but it does require that we re-think strategies for manufacturing and distribution…let’s face it every part of the marketing mix.

    Our challenges are profound but not insurmountable.

    In this conversation the most important issue is that it is not a matter of either/or. It is about diversity and having a long term strategic view of how we go about it. 20th Century (or is it C19?)ideas about manufacturing won’t secure a prosperous future. And neither will failing to acknowledge the cash cows-and sheep-of the present.

    Bottom line is that ‘The sky is falling’ or ‘Let’s just jump off a cliff now’ thinking probably doesn’t help.

  • My comment was more that, if the poster’s premise was that manufacturing is in fact dead, we should jump off a cliff. It was a very tongue in cheek comment given that my own business is expanding rapidly, finding international markets and producing ETM from right here in NZ. Bravo!

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