The Manufacturing CTO’s Dilemma
Mar 31

The Manufacturing CTO’s Dilemma

Janice Bennett Matchpoint Strategies LLC

The advanced materials manufacturing sector is expected to continue its growth and innovation well into 2018. Driving this progress are new technology platforms that enable accelerated concept adoption and product incubation. Rapid development in the areas of additive manufacturing and machine learning are also propelling change, all good signs towards the sector’s outlook.

Despite the rosy industry prognosis, many executives are voicing concern over the changes brought about by the “reshoring” of manufacturing back to the United States. Driven primarily by visible domestic policy initiatives as well as changes to employment dynamics in developing countries, many CTO’s are now facing the unprecedented task of revamping their strategic plans in light of these changes.

But what exactly is reshoring? And why is it expected to be a major driving force in the manufacturing sector in the coming years? The concept is fairly straightforward: companies who had previously moved operations overseas are now relocating back to the United States. Driving this trend is federal legislation, including the newly-released tax bill, which is encouraging companies to move operations back to domestic grounds. However, reshoring also has major implications for manufacturing firms; more materials will be needed as supply chains

realign, while human resource professionals will be pressed to attract top talent to fill innovation gaps.

At the top level, CTOs will need to reconsider outsourcing projects, embracing greater collaboration with innovators and incubators. Regulatory changes will give CTOs greater freedom, but manufacturing leaders will be pressed to exercise ethical and sustainable product stewardship for both industrial and consumer benefits. In particular, design methods will need to consider the implications of a product’s life cycle in the circular economy.

As Dr. Jeff Cernohous, President and CEO of Interfacial Consultants, explains, “I have spoken with many executives on the issue of the migration of manufacturing from Asia back to the United States and how it is impacting their strategic direction. It elevates serious conversations relating to a variety of topics that range from workforce shortages, technology and automation needs, and cradle to cradle product design.”

At Interfacial, our clients bring us pressing problems that requires a full understanding and appreciation of the reshoring challenge. We leverage our expert competencies in advanced materials and processing to deliver commercially viable solutions to clients in the bio-composite, plastics, and other integral market segments. In the words of Dr. Cernohous, “being agile and responsive to our clients commercialization needs is a differentiator for Interfacial. We are prepared at any given moment to navigate the challenges brought on by issues such as reshoring”.