Here’s a great picture of the sub-assemblies of the Boeing 787 (Dreamliner – ok it’s a silly name, but it’s somehow fun to say).
Its touted by Deloitte as an example of how disaggregated industries are. But looking at it I wondered, might it tell us something else. What (the hell) are wing-flaps and some other bits and bobs doing being made down the road from me at Fisherman’s Bend. I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that a great deal of effort is put into getting the Australian and Victorian Governments to pay for as much of the capital investment necessary to build these things as possible (and then some). How successful they have been I don’t know. I expect the really serious technology supplied by GE, Rolls Royce, Boeing itself and various other highly competent manufacturers. Perhaps Boeing Australia is in that category, but somehow I doubt it.
So it occurred to me that what we’re seeing illustrated here might not reflect the miracle of trade in lowering costs, but rather the miracle (for some) of trade in shifting costs to governments eager to claim that they’re part of the ‘cutting edge’. (Not to mention union busting – which may be no bad thing. The airline industry has been heading south in the US just like the automotive industry, I expect for similar reasons).
I’m sure the wingtips will be said to have put Melbourne on the Map in some ribbon cutting ceremony somewhere with local pollies and TV cameras lapping up the action.
If I’m wrong about all this, it is at least a pretty picture.