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Rebirth of French Industry

January 27th, 2010 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Bill Waddell’s excellent book which he could have called something like ‘Industrial Common Sense’, but it’s a good thing he didn’t as I wouldn’t have been able to adapt the title of my blog.

Where Bill is performing solo heroics to try and get the U.S. up and running, it is the French government over here that have realised that industry has been slumbering into the doldrums for a number of years now, and needs a wake-up call before it is too late.

A nationwide consultation programme was launched back in October.  Each of the 20 or French regions was asked to bring in its captains (and also deckhands) of industry and come up with recommendations on how to revive French industry. The regional analyses have to be fed back up the line by the end of January, and at the end of February, the government will take ‘la crème de la crème’ and outline what it is going to do to make the country more competitive.

However, as always, those in the know already know probably 80% of what is going to be announced (in this country, ‘rumours’ are ‘leaked’ before any important announcement just to test public reaction in order to make any necessary last-minute adjustments). Two of the major measures to be announced will be in the areas of,  firstly, sustainable development (helping drive competitivity through making industrial processes and products more ‘green’ and secondly, relocalisations.

Now, Bill Waddell and others have been very vociferous in highlighting the plight of a number of companies who have decided to take the low-cost route only to find that the disadvantages far outweigh the cost of labour. Obviously, this school of thought has not yet reached the ears of the French government, who intend to encourage relocalisations by providing loans to get companies back here. It has to said that this has already been tried back in 2004, and fell like a stone as companies were simply not interested. It remains to be seen whether the response to the ‘leaked rumours’ on this one will see it withdrawn or not in a month’s time.

Another area rumoured for measures to be taken is the relationship between the bigger customers and the smaller contractors, which has swayed much too far in favour of the former. Again, any actions taken will be financial.

Relocalisation and the extended Lean Supply Chain. Two areas where Lean thinking could be far less expensive can the policies currently being decided by the government.

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