Manufacturing & Industrial Products

Partners: John O'Reilly & Brad Dufour

Manufacturers face challenges and opportunities created by four elemental forces:

  • Globalization. Driven by lowering of trade barriers and emergence of internationally trained indigenous technocracies. Leading to migration of jobs from high-wage to low-wage countries, increasing use of automation, prevalence of multi-national supply chains
  • Specialization. Driven by maturation of major product categories allowing highly focused producers to out-compete diversified generalist producers; also by quality- and productivity-oriented disciplines such as Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Leading to radical new definitions of core vs. non-core activities and aggressive movement to outsourcing
  • Digitization. Driven by penetration of information technology into every facet of the manufacturing environment, from the shop floor to upstream design processes to downstream distribution networks. Leading to increased opportunities for productivity and flexibility, and increased demands for responsiveness
  • Mass Customization. Driven by marketing-driven product proliferation intended to meet the needs of ever-narrower customer segments; also by application of Lean Manufacturing techniques. Leading to wholesale redesign and remachining of production systems

These forces exert their effects in ways that vary significantly across industries – hitting some with the impact of a tidal wave, affecting others in more subtle ways. No industry has been left untouched, however, and no manufacturing manager can afford to become mired in the status quo.

Our Capabilities

Alliance's Manufacturing and Industrial Products practice helps clients develop functional strategies and total business strategies that harness these forces for the achievement of their business goals. Our deliverables are typically based on deep understanding of internal and competitor production costs and profit drivers. This factory-out view is often complemented with a market-in view that places the manufacturing mission in the context of market growth trends and customer needs and value points. (Some types of manufacturing complexity create value for customers; others merely create cost.)

Our professionals have worked in a wide variety of manufacturing fields, including discrete product industries such as tires, power generation equipment, and fiber optic cables, and process industries such as flat glass, food ingredients, and fine chemicals. We have worked for manufacturers, supply chain orchestrators, and providers of industrial services.

We have broad capabilities to apply to manufacturing challenges, and particularly deep experience in:

  • Designing manufacturing systems that make optimal use of in-house capabilities and assets while taking advantage of the strengths of outsource providers
  • Formulating competitive strategies that leverage the building blocks of sustainable advantage (scale, proprietary processes, etc.)
  • Developing plans for strategic (step-change) improvement in both the profit and investment sides of the return on assets equation
  • Determining the optimal mission and scope for factories based on market-in analysis of customer needs

Case Study

  • Formulating a production strategy to reduce costs and improve profitability
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