Monday, August 10, 2009

Profit from manufacturing knowledge

The Boeing Co is planning to invest in India - in the form of research centres and manufacturing of spares by tying up with firms like L&T etc. They are doing this to target the defence and commercial aerospace market here. Look at this story in Business Standard -

There are three straight plausible reasons -
1. It could seem to be a magnanimous act of a company developing local businesses.
2. Strengthening its appeal (to sell in India) by having local Indian partners
3. Preempting laws that would force local partnerships for such large contracts.

I believe there is a larger business sense in this. Ideally all manufacturing should be as localised as possible. There is no point of Indian iron ore being shipped to Japan and US and then returning to this country in the form of turbines. More so when it is know that heavy engineering items do not enjoy the economies of increasing the scale of production. And, still more so when it is known that there is a heavy variation in the specific nature of these goods produced.

Instead of producing it themselves companies like Boeing could tie up with local companies. Boeing here would not earn from manufacturing, but would earn a substantial revenue from their knowledge sharing. Per unit, this contribution (= unit sales price - unit variable costs) could be lesser than if they could have shipped the product from United States. But making in the local country would reduce costs (and price), substantially increase the demand and the resulting total contribution would be significantly higher.

The waste of intercontinental transportation would be totally avoided. That the company gets a better image as a responsible player (employing local citizens), etc. would be a very good and desirable by-product!!

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