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Manufacturing & Engineering

Improving Performance across the Manufacturing Value Chain to Create Competitive Advantage

Manufacturing & Engineering companies face countless complex challenges and opportunities, from slow growth and margin erosion to accelerating product lifecycles, fierce competition and foreign trade “wild cards.” We understand your dynamic sector and the continuous operational evolution required to thrive. The Highland Group partners with Manufacturing & Engineering leaders to achieve and sustain operational excellence amidst these difficult and rapidly changing market conditions.


The most pressing challenges we hear from Manufacturing & Engineering leaders are related to slow growth, intense competition in developed markets, new product design, speed to market, engineering productivity and global supply chain complexity. These factors typically limit organic CAGR to 4-7% and necessitate aggressive organic growth strategies, expansion by acquisition, increased inventories in fragmented markets and tight controls over working capital.

The troublesome combination of raw material volatility, escalating inventory costs and commoditization is eroding margins from both ends. Creating competitive advantage now requires increasingly comprehensive and innovative strategies, solutions and operational practices. Accordingly, many leaders are turning to The Highland Group for assistance in increasing their organization’s agility and flexibility, minimizing risk and enhancing performance on a sustained basis.


The Highland Group’s Manufacturing & Engineering practice focuses on each critical phase of the value chain: product development, sales, asset optimization, operations, quality, waste reduction, distribution and logistics, supply chain, working capital, margin optimization and facility rationalization, as well as mergers and acquisitions. For more than 20 years, we’ve helped industry-leading Manufacturing & Engineering companies realize sustainable operational improvements and behavioral change, as well as minimize costs, maximize efficiencies, optimize working capital and cultivate innovation. Over the last several years alone, we’ve served more than 60 global and national Manufacturing & Engineering firms, including several of the world’s largest manufacturers.

The swift rise and fall of numerous major Manufacturing & Engineering companies in the last decade has underscored the criticality of aligning process design and execution with people development and tools to achieve product development productivity improvement. Accordingly, we have recently completed engineering and design productivity projects with more than a dozen manufacturing organizations. These projects met – and in most cases, far exceed – our clients’ most critical business objectives, including: product lifecycle system enhancement, productivity improvement, product development process redefinition, product quality improvement, EBITDA improvement, product evaluation methodology enhancement, improved management/engineering time utilization, consolidated reporting, improved sales effectiveness, reduced concept-to-market cycle time, enhanced production methods and process technologies, new product introduction programs development and outsourcing risk mitigation.

Our Manufacturing & Engineering practice leaders are skilled at identifying and addressing the sector’s most pivotal opportunities and challenges. Each of our seasoned professionals brings a minimum of 15 years of successful industry and consulting experience, and several team members have held senior management roles in Manufacturing & Engineering companies. Moreover, our firm’s cross-sector collaborations empower us to apply intelligence from related industries to serve our Manufacturing & Engineering clients.

Manufacturing & Engineering leaders choose The Highland Group as their partner in delivering sustainable operational change and performance improvements because we:

  • Operate a global team ready to deploy anywhere in the world
  • Offer complete focus and clarity in targeting our clients’ business Driver Goals
  • Employ a robust, hands-on approach that leverages only senior consultants who have front-line, domain experience and credibility within the Manufacturing & Engineering sector 
  • Deliver significant, measurable results via our proven, proprietary project methodology
  • Ensure sustainable change by delivering operational insight to client senior management while engaging employees and contractors at the front-line operations level


Our uncommon level of industry knowledge and results span the entire manufacturing value chain. We pride ourselves on delivering sustainable operational excellence through our goal-driven, hands-on approach. Some of our selected projects include:

  • For an elevator manufacturer and installer: Reduced product development lifecycle by 50% and improved profitability by 2% of sales per year
  • For an HVAC manufacturer: Increased year-over-year sales by 15% and doubled sales within 5 years by establishing a sales management structure focused on selling, not administration
  • For an automotive glass manufacturer: Increased overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) from 63% to 75-80% on multiple production lines 
  • For a manufacturer of high-performance materials: Improved productivity and profitability; achieved annual savings of US$20M 
  • For an international paper manufacturer: Reduced operating costs by US$21M annually 
  • For a mining equipment manufacturer: Achieved US$4.9M in savings by reducing scrap, cutting consumable and energy costs and improving production processes 
  • For a bus manufacturer: Reduced third-party inbound transportation costs by US$2.7M 
  • For a manufacturer of structural adhesives for the aerospace industry: Improved quality control cycle time from 18 days to 6 days while increasing throughput by 285% 
  • For a manufacturer of extruded aluminium products: Improved direct labor efficiency and reduced cost of production by more than 14% 
  • For a Tier 1 auto parts supplier: Reduced distribution center labor costs by 5% of sales 
  • For a manufacturer of high-tech capital equipment systems: Consolidated two facilities, thereby improving margin by US$10.6M annually with no adverse impact to customers

Our unique combination of sector experience and implementation focus makes us ideally suited to help our Manufacturing & Engineering clients thrive amidst intensifying challenges and increasingly competitive markets.