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Value Added?

Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011, at 9:21 AM

(Photo)
Beat this USA!
The US economy has been in the news plenty lately. We read federal, state, and local budgets are squeezed to the max with spending cuts going on seemingly everywhere... and it isn't only government, many big businesses have pulled back with record profits but little job creation. Revenues are down, expenses are up, and there is no end in sight it seems.

Recent hi-tech news has Cisco Systems, the information routing technology company, set to cut back about 9% of their workforce or somewhere around 6500 jobs... the reason stated is fierce competition.

We in the US of A have been led to believe that you get what you pay for. When I was a kid, a "Made In Japan" sticker meant cheap junk that was destined for the scrap heap in short order. "Made In China" wasn't even on the radar that I recall in the mid 50's beyond fireworks and finger "handcuffs".

We all have a pretty good idea how our economy woes all came about, but today I want to offer an example to bring it more to life.

I was recently in the market for a digital voltmeter. When I started my search for a new meter, I looked into what I already knew something about. When I worked at the phone company, we used Fluke brand test equipment when the item wasn't made by Western Electric itself. Fluke (made in USA) meters were tough and seemed nearly indestructible. I dropped mine more than once from the top of a phone pole and it never missed a beat.

So off to the source of all earthly information, the Internet to start my search for the type meter I need for my amateur radio hobby. First off, I'll admit that the meter I'm looking for is a bit more feature rich than most, so of course the price is gonna be commensurate right? I don't want junk, but value is important.

To make a long search story a whole lot shorter, the meter I needed from Fluke, and I admit they are supposed to have industrial strength and durability, costs well over $400. YIKES I'm thinking... that's a lot of green for a hobby meter that I only use occasionally, and could use on other stuff around the ham radio station I'm assembling. I'm thinking I'll shop around.

That's when it hits you... US companies don't seem to have a clue apparently. A review of Fluke (A USA company) products finds that my previous favorite choice of "Made In USA" meters has many of their products made in China now. As a matter of fact, try and find an affordable US made digital multi-meter and you will quickly find one segment of US jobs moved overseas. Walmart sells one made in China for about $20, and it might be fine for many applications, but not for the use I have... feature rich remember? A similar model to Walmarts offering with the Fluke name on it costs well over $100... made in China as well. Value added by Fluke? I doubt it. As a matter of fact, Fluke branded meters were recalled as you could get killed... http://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarchive/...

Anyway, I ended up finding the perfect meter online through an Ebay store. Now get this. It cost me $.99. Yep, I could have got one at the dollar store if they had 'em there. OK, so by the time I got it to my door, it cost $11.98 insured air shipping from China. Took a week to get here, and the dang thing works. It has passed the 6 foot drop test onto concrete so it's pretty tough too.

Hey US companies are you listening... I would have paid 5 times the amount I paid for the delivered Chinese product if you made it in the US of A. If the Chinese can make a meter of this quality and sell it for 12 bucks delivered to my door in Cambridge, I'd think US workers and manufacturers would wake up and smell the Chinese coffee and do something about it.

Just my $.02, which apparently would buy a lot in China. I hate it when I try to buy "Made In USA", and discover that buying "Made in USA" doesn't make sense for common consumer products... we're screwed.

Value added? You decide.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Brian, if you need an 'O-Scope,' you can have mine. It has been on the shelf now for ten years, and if you can use it, you can have it. The test cables are missing, from some time ago, the thief didn't know what was in the box, but had 'O-scope' on it, and I guess he though the whole thing was in there. ha. Gimme a call if you can use it: 692-3377. Hope your having fun with the CW, and the Hamming. I always thought of it as a 'Bus-man's holiday,' and shied away from the action, especially the cost.

-- Posted by Navyblue on Tue, Jul 19, 2011, at 8:19 PM

PS, I have a sound generator you can have also.

-- Posted by Navyblue on Tue, Jul 19, 2011, at 8:19 PM

Sold! I'll call later and thanks in advance Arley.

I know what you mean about a "Bus-man's holiday". I'm that way with phones anymore.

I will say that ham radio is like any other hobby... it can be as expensive or cheap as you wish. Some ops build all their own equipment while others must have the top-o-the-line equipment. Many new hams are using inexpensive equipment that fits in a backpack and hike to the tops of mountains for some really distant contacts.

Computers are becoming a major aspect of amateur radio as well. Low power transcievers interfaced to a computer makes a fine digital station that can communicate all over the world.

Just a plug for what one of the greatest hobbies out there.

-- Posted by Brian Hoag on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 11:06 AM

And, Sold, to you, (as gavel falls).

-- Posted by Navyblue on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 3:00 PM

Either your phone line is broken, or you have dial-up. Look me up in the Cambridge section and give me a call Arley.

-- Posted by Brian Hoag on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 9:03 PM

I have a feeling that the cost advantages with shipping jobs to China will be ending by the end of the decade.

According to my business strategies teacher last year, the cost advantaged had narrowed to about 5%.

Between shipping costs, lead times, regulatory payments, risk of intellectual property theft, I'd guess the labor costs don't have to go up much before the advantage is gone.

-- Posted by npwinder on Thu, Jul 21, 2011, at 12:39 AM


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