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Manufacturers Disrupting Themselves

Increased Competitiveness and Resiliency through Next Generation Manufacturing

Executive Summary

A time of exponential change has come to U.S. manufacturing and companies are future-proofing their operations as well as their products. They are investing for the long haul, regardless of current economic and geopolitical disruptions. To gain a better understanding of shifting priorities, Manufacturers Alliance and Roland Berger recently partnered to look at six key trends affecting manufacturing today.

Our survey and interviews identified an appetite for investment and change. Companies are harnessing the natural synergy between digitalization and sustainability to speed up progress in both areas. They are taking a hard look at what they make, how they make it, and why. Business model innovation is becoming more important in a sector that has traditionally focused on product innovation for competitive differentiation. Manufacturers are also reconsidering the value of location, placing operations closer to customers and suppliers. Customization is more important than ever, with many manufacturers aspiring to achieve lot-size-one or individualized products. They are bullish on the U.S. as a manufacturing location and – after decades of outsourcing – have a heightened appreciation for the role of manufacturing process itself and its ability to deliver long-term competitive advantage.


Key Findings

  • Business model innovation has come to manufacturing. Following in the footsteps of other sectors, manufacturing is increasingly looking at business model innovation instead of strictly focusing on product innovation. Additional sources of growth include new solutions, differentiation through software, and novel services.
  • Digitalization is table stakes for competitiveness and a prerequisite for sustainability. Manufacturers rank digitalization and sustainability as the most relevant and important trends. They are investing and making progress in both areas with long-term goals in mind. The daunting nature of handling these two massive trends has been replaced by the realization that, when done right, they solve each other.
  • Reshoring and localization are gaining traction. More manufacturers are pursuing localization and reshoring to the Americas to increase customer intimacy, reduce geopolitical risk, and shorten supply chains. Not only are they investing in the Americas, but they are also investing in greenfield sites. Localization also spurs progress in the customization of products to meet the needs of individual customers, including presenting regional offerings.
  • Technology leaders are much more likely to pursue lot-size-one or individualized manufacturing. The faster manufacturers embrace digitalization and adopt new technologies, the greater their appetite to deliver individualized and/or customized products to their customers.

Trends with High or Very High Relevance for Respondents


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About Roland Berger

ROLAND BERGER is a global management consultancy with offices in all major international markets. Driven by our values of entrepreneurship, excellence, and empathy, we at Roland Berger believe the world needs a new sustainable paradigm that takes the entire value cycle into account. As an independent firm solely owned by our partners, Roland Berger's employees work in cross-competence teams across all relevant industries and business functions, providing the analytic approach and expertise to meet the profound challenges facing our clients and the world.