I think this kind of supply chain issue is a national security concern.
This is a great read on the disparity of supply chain / manufacturing capabilities of China vs US and makes this new "cold war" era much different than previous between Soviet Union where we had not outsourced a large quorum of our productive capacity.
If you want manufacturing to move back to the US (or Europe) you need to have tariffs that are so high that it's more profitable to move to the US even with supply chains that need to be built back up.
It's not easy to move manufacturing, that's why there's a lot of incentive to stay where you are.
In a large scale war consumer electronics and massive quantities of consumer goods would not be a priority. Thing s like food, bullets, clothing, fuel, tanks etc would be and all of that can easily be manufactured in the US.
I'm not so sure. A modern army also needs things like radios, navigation aids, data-link terminals, etc. in massive quantities. The supply chains for those things have more in common with consumer electronics than with those for food, fuel, and bullets.
In WWII, I understand that the US converted its civilian manufacturing base from making things like civilian cars to making tanks and airplanes. I'd think it'd be a lot easier to covert a manufacturing base than to build one from scratch.
Of note, the minimal types of equipment, large existing stockpiles, and lower percentage of servicemen vs civilians even in a total war situation makes this a vastly smaller market than consumer electronics. The risk vs benifits of offshoring is simply not worth it. Especially becase it allows congressional spending in specific districts.
PS: While manufacturing would need to be expanded, stockpiles allows for a significant ramp up period.
I'm skeptical that peacetime military-dedicated manufacturing capability + peacetime stockpiles would be able to scale to meet wartime needs. I would think it would be significantly advantageous to have plenty of slack, state-of-the-art civilian capacity (+ related expertise) in all needed areas.
At 1.3 million active duty military and more than 800,000 reserve forces the infrastructure to maintain that is already significant manufacturing capacity. Training more people takes time so you get various projections around force mobilization vs war footing etc. But while some lag is expected, you can get a lot done with even 1 year of critical supplies on hand.
Remember this is the same group that designed the internet to keep working even as major cities where nuked. Going to war is very much part of long term planning.
It's a bit of a bummer about Apple's computers. On my self-built desktops there are basically two types of screws that are interchangeable between any computer I've ever built (the normal ones and the ones that self-thread into plastic fan). If I add a PCI card and need an extra, the ones that came with a Pentium 4 motherboard will do just fine.
I kinda get the "we need this very specific screw" thing for laptops or phones where thinness matters, but the trashcan Mac Pro is an exercise in weird priorities.
It feels like Apple's design team has forgotten that standard parts exist even when they'd work fine, or even better than some crazy integrated solution. Custom screws for everything just because you can. PCIe GPUs? Who needs em!? Gotta fit in this cylinder.
It's a problem they've created for themselves, and if they wanted to stop having it the solution is "Stop doing that." Go buy a normal screw like everyone else.
Stopping European and American companies from making business with Chinese companies puts us closer to a war.
From 1980 to now, wealthy people have sold out the well-being of the US for slight increases in their personal wealth.
Historically, the solution is to kill wealthy people until they start acting better.
Sure, but many of the really wealthy usually manage to flee elsewhere or get on the good side of the people in charge of the killing. You wind up having to settle for killing a bunch of the middle/upper middle class. Usually you start by killing the university professors, the engineers, doctors and other middle/upper middle class people who might say things that could undermine the new regime.
Then you lose a generation or two to rebuilding. All of the "successful" revolts I can think of were either a) deposing despots who used populist uprisings to seize power b) mostly autonomous territories/colonies gaining independence.
The counter-argument is that on the long term, killing a bunch of wealthy people seems to be the only mechanism that resets the behavior and norms of the wealthy.
Setting your house on fire is also an "efficient" way to generate heat, unless you account for the full future reckoning, which was similarly ignored in the move of manufacturing to China.
A war doesn't have to be likely for the location of supply chains to have a negative geopolitical effect. For instance: China could use the knowledge that globalization has become the US military's achilles heel to confidently take aggressive action elsewhere, knowing the US can't respond because it can't sustain a response without Chinese cooperation.
In a similar vein, economic dependence limits the pressure the US and other western countries can put on China in the name of Chinese human rights.
Serious question, what pressure does the US currently put on China in the name of Chinese human rights?
The reality is that the rich simply pocketed the labor arbitrage as profit rather than passing the savings on to consumers, they have 0 incentive not to because their is no punishment for doing so. That's why corporate profits and income inequality the highest in decades.
Deterrence is achieved. No-one is going to try to invade the USA or start an all out war against them.
This is FUD for power and money.
Check this out for full scope of current disparities 
We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan to some extent all these years later and those countries had armies weaker than some states' national guard
I wouldn't worry about an attack on the US by China, but I would worry about an attack on Taiwan which the US has promised to defend and has an awful lot of chip manufacturing in the form of TSMC.
Realistically a major US-China conflict could mean the end of affordable smartphones and a huge dent in the US civilian tech industry. I suspect it would also see drastic measures against information warfare, First Amendment notwithstanding.
Really? That's what you are concerned about? A major US-China war would likely drag the rest of the world in and burn a major world economic pillar within a week or so.
You won't simply miss your smartphone and live your life like nothing happened because all the ordinance is dropped thousands of miles away - China is not Afghanistan where you can simply ignore the violence. It's an enemy that can and will strike back with infinitely more potential than WW2 Japan. And then you're still leaving Iran, North Korea and Russia out of the equation.
What better time for NK to invade the South than during a major Pacific conflict where troops from Taiwan to Guam will be quite busy.
Lay waste to everything of value until the enemy surrenders on terms you can accept then leave. Sure there will be resentment but traditionally this is how wars were "won" prior to 1945. The rebuilding of Europe and Japan after WW2 was the first big break from the status quo.
Obviously this assumes a conventional war without nukes. Nuclear powers don't get in shooting wars with other nuclear powers (see Cuban missile crisis) so it doesn't really matter.
Only because the US isn't willing to use Mongol tactics to win. US could end it tomorrow if we said we'd nuke any village found to be working with the Taliban or use our numerous chemical and biological weapons to wipe out the native population
Believing in basic human rights is why the US is still in the middle east
America mines its own minerals and pumps its own oil. China cannot. This was the same weakness Japan had. In an American-Chinese conventional or proxy war, among the first Chinese targets would be its ports, pipelines and oil tankers.
Russia also pumps oil for export and shares a land border with China. It's also relatively friendly to China and relatively antagonistic to the US.
US would blockade Brazil and stop exports of soy and corn to China. China would starve within months if not weeks
China has zero force projection ability
No shots would be fired, you'd just see a slow withering and take-over of your economy.
Tri-screws (Nintendo), were one of the first things I had to buy "single-use" screw-drivers for.
This makes sense to me since "security screws" are an almost entirely useless form of tamper prevention or tamper evidence. However I've no idea what the real story is.
I'm wondering if somebody with knowledge can chime in....
Although Apple uses odd security screws in all their products, their pursuit of thinness and compactness also probably leads them to need precisely manufactured small parts.
Of course if the Mac Pro had just used the old Mac Pro design or the previous Power Mac tower designs, perhaps the parts for a tower case might have been easier to find...
The "right to repair" movement and subsequent legislation was squarely pointed at Apple. There's simply nothing Apple won't do to stymie user rights, from purposefully forcing app-devs into the app store by crippling the iOS browser, to retroactively modifying app store rules to kill competition (as with Steam), to making it next to impossible to repair hardware outside their store
The tiny screw shows not why it won't be assembled in USA but why it should be assembled. Making a phone or laptop requires an entire industry to back it up. Making those things in US makes it possible that these industries will come back.
Also, just for US security it is probably not important that the screws are imported. What is important is that the electronics are not handled outside US and US retains its ability to make practical electronics and not rely 100% on China.
Isn't that a chicken-and-egg scenario though? The industry won't come back if manufacturers don't bring production back, but manufacturers won't bring production back until there's a local industry to bring it back to.
It sure will cost more, but the industry does not grow overnight and people do need time to get experienced and I think it is vital that some country other than China supplies electronics, too.
And I suspect scale matters here a lot, so a relatively small experiment is going to have supply issues where a large project would create enough demand that investing to fill it makes sense.
Manufacturers sent manufacturing jobs overseas thirty years ago, so few Americans learned manufacturing skills for thirty years, now manufacturers use the effect to justify the cause. But of course the real reason was simply that they didn't want to pay American wages.
If manufacturers brought the jobs back Americans would learn the skills.
I think we'd have to make that fiscally worthwhile (large tax carrot/stick) to make that happen.
But no: just close the smart card division.
Without knowing the requirements, you'll never know if they had a good reason for custom screws. As such this comment is not constructive at best, and just standard "apple is bad cause no standards" drivel at worst.
Firewire, USB-C, Bluetooth, POSIX, etc... Apple doesn't do as much non-standard stuff as people on the Internet would have you think.
I suspect they had to design their own screws however because most of the tamper bits have a lot of torque designed in which makes the heads deeper so they couldn't use an off the shelf design or it would intrude further into the chassis of the device.
Apple replaced my 6s before xmas 23 months into AppleCare with a brand new one because there was a light patch on the screen. Cost me £0.
People who didn't have the skills and didn't know a repair shop they trust could still pay for AppleCare, but AppleCare should have to compete on value, not be the only option because Apple locked down the product.
I have replaced various things on Apple products over the years myself and have had no problems at all. It's not exactly prevention!
It may be that there were some non-standard screws used in assemblies that were not disassembled by iFixit, but to me it is more likely that Apple simply used standard Torx screws in custom lengths.
Using custom-length screws is not "esoteric" design. My employer uses custom-made custom-length screws in its products, albeit at a much lower volume and with a much longer production time than I assume Apple is dealing with.
When we're designing something we don't look at the T5 screws available on the market and design around those, we design the product to meet its requirements and if that means getting a 5.125mm T5 Torx screw custom made instead of the standard 5mm available on the market, that's what we get.
Because of the industry I work in, we also have very strict requirements for the type of materials used in our products. If we need a screw it probably needs to be made out of a specific metal that has specific properties like A-286 or similar. You have to be guaranteed that the screws weren't made out of whatever metal was on the dock that day, with a label slapped on them after the fact.
We have thermal characteristics we have to meet, but Apple has manufacturing reliability standards it has to meet.
There is a near-zero chance that, unless you have a guy IN China going to the factory every day inspecting stuff as it comes off the line, a pallet of 5.125mm T5 Torx screws is going to contain screws that are all exactly 5.125mm in length.
Like Apple, we contract out the manufacturing of the screws to regional machine shops.
I have only been involved in the manufacturing side of things for about five years, but one of my first lessons was not to rely on dealers and distributors for mission-critical applications. One order of components we received from a very large and well-known supply house was slightly out of spec and set us back several weeks of work because it took time to realize there was a problem, determine what the problem was, and deal with the distributor to fix the problem. Now for one-off jobs we rely on an in-house machine shop and for bulk orders we contract out to local manufacturers rather than relying on a supply chain that traverses multiple disinterested middlemen on its way back to Shenzhen.
That way when the 5.125mm screws we ordered come out to 5.13mm our guy can get in his car with a baggie of screws and his Mitutoyo and go to the shop and show them what's wrong.
For every problem my small 130-man organization has encountered with manufacturing in the US, Apple probably has dealt with similar problems on a scale that is unimaginably larger, and in my experience no amount of money can fix those problems quickly.
Building stuff in the US is harder and slower than just saying "screw it" and slapping a badge on something pumped out of a factory in China.
No amount of money, not even Apple Money, can fix that quickly. People fail to understand this, they think money can solve everything.
Quite literally, if you have a hundred trillion dollars in cash and an army of buyers ready to spend it you can't fix most lead time problems.
Apple has shot itself in the foot before by being too tough on suppliers.
They want suppliers to invest in production capacity without guaranteeing a big buy. Remember the sapphire screen debacle.
Apple bent over backwards to forgive late delivery, and GT Advanced repeatedly lied about what they’d actually achieved.
Apple surely turns the screws on it’s suppliers, but GT Advanced isn’t a very good example of this, the producers just lied about what their capabilities (and mid-stream accomplishments!) were.
Yes. They originally wanted to just sell furnaces to Apple, but Apple pushed them into a deal where GT Advanced took all the risk of making the end product. The management of GT Advanced should have rejected that deal, but they took the "fake it til you make it" route, and it didn't end well. There's still litigation underway involving Apple.
I think the scenario is:
- China has tons of cheap labour
- manual manufacturing in US is expensive
- most companies have the problem of over-reliance on Chinese manufacturing
- Apple has tons of reserves
I see this as an opportunity for Apple to invest in more and more sophisticated mechanization driven by the smarter robotics. It may be difficult for a machine learning algorithm to tell a bird from another but equipment/machines are much more defined than fuzzy. Further, Apple being a sought-after employer in general shouldn't have problem attracting top talent for this exciting and growing area of work (with all its issues, US still attracts the best minds it needs for such research).
If they invest and get to a state where they are not only making phones but smart machines that can make machines that make phones or whatever, they will open up a new world for themselves and can solve a problem much bigger than making phones cheaply (while still making phones cheaply).
Robots may well be coming, to a factory in China.
sorry, but their actions in support of charities and other rights issues world wide will always be tainted by their association with the Chinese government. they are there only because its cheaper to operate and its only cheaper to operate simply because you have a government which does not respect rights, property, personal, and in many cases intellectual.
this looks like yet another example of what US-based globalization promoters have been pushing as the "prosperous future" of the US manufacturing sector: custom, high-precision, high-quality, high-end etc.
but this "plan for prosperity" has pushed high-volume, low-cost manufacturing capabilities out of the US. it should have been obvious to Apple beforehand.
I don't understand how she came to that conclusion or what this sentence even means really.
Most of the parts for Apple devices are not made in China.
China is basically an assembly location since slave labor can be used to maximize profit.
Another trash article from the NYT's.
Never mind the screws, it's the humans which are important here.
apple always fucks up on that, even usb extensors can have a "dent" so it doesn't fit regular usb cables.
that part of apple is the most disgusting.
Here in the USA our companies take liability into account. Our precision manufacturing sector is much older and more experienced, but also each entity is smaller due to America being truly capitalist.
Apple is the kind of customer that small American companies don't want to deal with. Their buyers are demanding, uncompromising, and don't understand manufacturing. They want to buy 100,000 screws and cannot understand why they aren't already on a shelf somewhere waiting to be shipped. They don't care either, they just NEED the screws. If Apple is a customer of yours, you probably don't do business with many other companies. Apple deadlines and requirements don't specifically disallow it, they just don't leave enough foom for it.
Just ask GT Advanced Technologies what it's like dealing with Apple as a supplier. They signed a contract with Apple, spent all their capital acquiring Apple approved manufacturing equipment, and then fought with Apple QC about acceptance criteria that their Apple approved equipment couldn't meet. They did this until GT ran out of money and went belly up. They spent so much resources trying to satisfy Apple that they couldn't satisfy anybody else.