Arena Blog

Is there a one-size-fits-all manufacturing strategy?

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Short answer—“no.”

As we wrap up analysis of our Manufacturing Outsourcing Trends Survey, it’s becoming clear that although there are some general commonalities, the specific benefits, challenges and impacts of outsourcing differ greatly for large and small companies across different industries.

We received approximately 1000 survey responses from high tech, medical device, consumer products, industrial, clean tech, automotive, aerospace, telecoms and contract manufacturers/EMS companies across the globe, and as the chart below shows, the overall trend for organizations is to outsource less through the various phases of manufacturing.

Sample includes all respondents across a variety of industries, sizes and company ages

High tech companies outsource more across most phases of manufacturing

After establishing a baseline, it was interesting to see how the percentages changed when we isolated the data by industry and company size. For example—we found that high tech is very deeply outsourced as a whole. The data suggests many reasons for this, but in general the industry seems quite mature in its approach to setting up the supply chain, and has less trouble negotiating terms that make business sense.

High tech mfg

Sample limited to high tech respondents across all company sizes and ages

Start-ups are not yet fully outsourced and struggle to find the right partners

In contrast, we found that start-ups across all industries are not yet fully outsourced and are not sure how to pick the right partners. Start-ups that do outsource tend to outsource locally, as quality is supremely important to young companies launching first products. We also saw that young companies are more likely to outsource fulfillment than other organizations.


start up outsourcing

Sample includes companies across all industries that have been in business less than 5 years

In general, as we dissected the data, it became clear that not only is outsourcing a growing manufacturing strategy, but there is no “one-size-fits-all” outsourcing plan that works across all industries and organization types.

We will be sharing the rest of the findings in the next couple of weeks, but if you’d like to request a copy of the results please email me, or request a copy in the comments.

About the Author

Alex Gammelgard

Alex managed social media marketing and communications at Arena from 2011 to 2012. Although coming in fresh to the manufacturing industry, Alex is married to an engineer and is well ...

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