Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Volume 22, Issue 1
On a recent visit to Hong Kong I had a magnificent view from my hotel room of the “Stonecutters Bridge”, a beautiful road bridge that was completed in 2009 at a cost of USD 356 million. With a main span of more than 1 km it is the second longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.
Stonecutters Bridge is not without its critics. Many say it is the bridge to nowhere, built to prop up the construction industry. Indeed, although it shortens the driving time from the city to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport the fastest way for passengers to get there is still by the Airport Express train, which follows a different route over another bridge opened in 1997.
However, these criticisms miss the point of a bridge like this. The important connection provided by the Stonecutters Bridge is between Hong Kong’s huge container terminals and the air cargo centre at Chek Lap Kok, which handles 3.4 million tonnes of freight each year and is the biggest in the world. In fact the bridge is only one of many transport infrastructure projects around the Pearl River Delta region, the most ambitious of which is a 50 km bridge from Hong Kong to Macau, actually a series of bridges and tunnels, which will be completed in 2014-2015 at an estimated cost of USD 10.7 billion.
Such ambitious infrastructure projects are not just a show of prestige. They are an indication of China’s determination to remain the world’s most powerful manufacturing country. Manufacturing is not just the activity of producing goods in factories. It embraces the whole value chain that includes design and bringing goods to market, with logistics becoming an increasingly important aspect of this value chain. So, as Chinese wages increase then logistics plays an increasing role by compensating for higher factory costs. Its role also becomes more important as production moves from China’s higher cost coastal areas to the lower cost inland provinces.
This dramatic illustration of the increasing importance of logistics within the manufacturing value chain has led me to ask whether the papers published in Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management (JMTM) reflect what is happening in practice. Therefore, I made a simple comparison of published articles with either “production” or “logistics” in the title during the periods 1991-2000 and 2001-2010. The results are interesting and bear out the point. The number of “logistics” titled articles has trebled whereas number of the “production” titled articles has not quite doubled.
It is gratifying to find out that in this respect the subject of papers appears to be following the trend of what is actually happening. I suggested in the Editorial for JMTM Vol. 21 No. 7 that the popularity of subjects could be more of an indication that they are self-generating, due to the requirement to extensively cite past literature, rather than necessarily directly reflecting the reality of industrial problems. It seems this is not necessarily the case and I hope this point is taken by authors of prospective papers for JMTM when choosing a suitable topic. The changing landscape of manufacturing needs to be reflected in how the journal content also continues to change.