When considering a lean value chain it can often highlight the time materials, reports, information all spend in transport or waiting.
This why many organisations discover that off-shoring work can drive down labour related costs whilst driving up Work in Progress and delay responses to customers. This off-shored work, over the last 30 years or so has often been located in Asia and the Far East.
Automation may be seen as the hope that jobs could be re-located back to the major Western economies.
In this Financial Times article (23/4/17) Kasper Rorsted, boss at Adidas. believes it's a an illusion that manufacturing can return to Europe or the States, in any volume anyway.