McKinsey & Co. resently published an awesome analysis about the future of offshoring. I guess these trends will shape the way how we talk about manufacturing site selection.
Manufacturing site selection is dramatically changing, because manufacturing is changing. You cannot blame it on China anymore. McKinsey created a new term to describe it: next-shoring. There are "two defining priorities for manufacturing strategy in the era of next-shoring: proximity to demand and proximity to innovation, particularly an innovative base of suppliers." If you add the rapidly increasing energy and labour costs in emerging markets (Chinese wages nearly doubled since 2008), the limits of labour arbitrage is obvious.
"To derive value from these shifts, companies will have to make significant investments and ensure access to hubs of innovation, capable suppliers, and highly skilled workers."
"Cheaper, more proficient robots that can substitute for a wider variety of human tasks are another reason companies may locate more manufacturing closer to major demand markets, even where wage rates are higher."
"3-D printers open up the possibility of more distributed production networks and radical customization. Products will communicate with each other, with robots and advanced machines inside factories, and with customers and suppliers."
One of the magic world of 21th century manufacturing: product customization. You cannot manage it from China, expect your target market is China. "Locating manufacturing close to demand makes it easier to identify and meet local needs. Volkswagen has coped by moving from vehicle platforms to more modular architectures that provide greater flexibility for manufacturing several product variants or derivatives."
Supplier ecosystems and clusters
"New combinations of technical expertise and local domain knowledge will become the basis for powerful new product strategies. Responsive, collaborative, and tech-savvy supplier ecosystems will therefore be increasingly important competitive assets in a growing number of regional markets."
Clusters will shape the landscape of future manufacturing. Clusters are regarded as tools for small enterprise development and innovation (in Europe, I don't know to US situation). In fact, clusters will be the strongest argument in manufacturing site selection.
Developing people and skills
Education is too important to entrust it to teachers. Nowadays education is important - but it will be critical in the future. If your local labour market doesn't fit to your local manufacturing profile, it will undermine the success of local clusters and your company.
When you think about education development, look at the "German modell". It has very strong company presence in the education, and react very quickly and efficiently for technology changes.
For more details about reshaping manufacturing, watch the following McKinsey video:
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