What I'm about to say is not car-related, but so much more of this thread isn't either, so here goes. I used to manage a facility that sourced, procured, warehoused and distributed essential operational items to a nationwide company (well, actually, I ran three facilities, strategically located to service the broad geographic base of our operations). We included small production capabilities to produce some of the more critical items, so we had more control over availability and delivery. We secured primary and back-up suppliers and maintained north of a 98.5% service level for the years that I was there (I had worked my way up from an apprentice position in the production area of the initial shop, and over time had created the systems, plus acquired and opened two of the facilities as the corporation grew to need them).
Leadership of the company changed us to JIT requirements to cut inventory costs. We worked with the suppliers (even had to change a few) to adapt to that. Then upper management decided that outsourcing the entire deal was cheaper still, and tasked me with closing the three centers, laying off all the employees, and creating a system for sourcing and procuring all of the products we had done in-house. Of course, overhead, inventory and insurance costs went down - but per unit costs of all of the products skyrocketed. Outsourcing costs have a much different taxing and book-value than internal operations and inventory, so things looked okay on paper. But. Service levels plummeted like bowling balls dropped off buildings, and the confusion factor for our stores zoomed - they'd had ONE supplier (us) to work with for decades, and now they had to deal with many dozens of them. The suppliers were overwhelmed - they'd had ONE customer (us) to work with for decades, and now they had thousands of them. Negotiating and maintaining all of the contracts with the suppliers was the job of my small team.
Then, the big guys in the corner offices decided to outsource even my team's responsibilities. I was given a retirement package and my team was disbursed (basically phased out, and none of them are still there). Service, product quality, and costs were now completely out of the hands of anyone within the company - left totally to someone else.
I've now been gone for 10 years. New ownership took over about 5 years ago, and things were so messy that they called me and asked if I'd like to come back and rebuild the internal systems and operations I'd once built 36 years prior. As tempting as the challenge and promise of a reward was, I told them they should call the guy I'd been grooming as my replacement and give him a shot. He told them "no thanks". We'd both been down that road and knew it didn't lead to Nirvana.
I shudder to think how the fiasco they created by wiping out my entire career's work is now affecting the stores and the expense line. But even worse, I wonder if those stores can even get what they need right now (at any cost), as the suppliers and distribution systems required are closing down at an alarming rate.
Be careful what you call progress, Mr. and Ms. CEOs of the world!
I effing HATE Agile development. It seriously has me debating whether or not to leave the software development industry. Sure, at that point, I’d need to trade my X5 in for an XG350 (as in, the old Hyundai), but it might just be worth it.
Beyond that, yes, it would be interesting to see what it would look like if automakers started recentralizing their resources and suppliers. But it’s not likely to happen. For one thing, everything is going EV, and those raw materials don’t come from the US. They come from other countries with—incidentally—horrible human-rights records. But mostly, it’s down to money. Decentralizing worked up until now, and kept operating expenses lower, especially if an automaker relied upon JIT manufacturing rather than having to pay and store, say, a warehouse full of pricey computer modules.