The Return to Localised Manufacturing: Business Challenges and Opportunities


The high volume, low variety paradigm that has traditionally fuelled business growth is being challenged. The internet has provided ‘power to the people’ and created a desire for personalised products at mass customised prices. Technological advancement, a greater desire for sustainability, improving labour rate parity and commodity price volatility have created an environment supportive of smaller-scale localised manufacture. This shift is driving the development of new business models and supply chains, changing dynamics of work and communities, and potentially has huge implications for industrial and social policy.

This networking event provided the opportunity to explore this topic from a range of different perspectives. It began with an overview of the changing landscape and the shift towards more localised or re-distributed manufacturing. The business challenges and opportunities were then explored in more detail for one of the enabling technologies, 3D printing. It was argued that such a shift in the way that we define, make and move products will create a raft of new legal challenges, that if not considered early enough could hamper its development. These were discussed before the floor was opened up to a panel discussion. The evening finished with further networking over a light buffet and wine.