Published 1 month ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Oğuzhan KARACA
By shortening supply chains, optimizing resource utilization and reducing waste,
nearshoring enhances economic resilience and embodies a shift towards a more
sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to manufacturing.
As a strategic imperative in the face of global supply chain disruptions, the
nearshoring (or reshoring)
movement has emerged as a viable solution across the manufacturing sector.
This trend is not just a response to the need for greater resilience and
efficiency; it also represents a conscientious shift towards environmental
sustainability in manufacturing practices.
Nearshoring is a strategic reconfiguration involving the relocation of
manufacturing operations closer to the final markets. This approach is a
departure from traditional, offshore outsourcing — marking a significant shift
towards regional or continental production.
The primary goals include reducing lead times, increasing flexibility and
minimizing risks associated with global disruptions. Yet nearshoring goes beyond
economics; it has profound environmental advantages, as well.
The rise of nearshoring over the
past five years has been propelled by a range of factors — such as the COVID-19
and legislation including the US Inflation Reduction
and the CHIPS and Science
— which have spotlighted the vulnerabilities in extended supply chains,
emphasizing the need for more resilient solutions. Nearshoring offers a solution
by shortening supply chains and allowing companies to respond more swiftly to
changing market dynamics and unforeseen challenges.
By shortening supply chains, nearshoring significantly cuts down lead times. As
a result, companies can bring products to market faster — better meeting demand
for fast production and delivery. This not only enhances customer satisfaction
but also positions companies more competitively in dynamic markets such as
electronics, where speed to market is a critical success factor.
Nearshoring provides a level of agility that lengthy offshore supply chains
can’t match. Proximity to end markets allows for quicker adjustments to demand
changes, design modifications or shifts in consumer preferences — all crucial in
fast-evolving industries where innovation and adaptability are key to staying
ahead of the competition.
While nearshoring may not always be the lowest-cost option, it offers a
comprehensive view of the total cost of ownership — including transportation,
inventory carrying costs, and the potential impact of supply chain disruptions.
Companies are recognizing this broader economic perspective often reveals
nearshoring as a more viable long-term strategy compared to offshoring.
Nearshoring offers significant environmental advantages. By localizing
production, it drastically reduces carbon emissions related to long-haul
transportation from lengthy shipping, trucking, and aviation routes. Research
carbon emissions from international shipping grew from 494 million metric tons
in 2002 to a record high of 710 million in 2022.
Moreover, localized facilities are typically more energy-efficient —
contributing to global efforts to combat climate change. Additionally,
nearshoring can enable better alignment with the principles of a circular
promoting better resource management — the ability to source materials locally
helps companies reduce waste and the environmental impact associated with the
extraction and transportation of raw materials, and enables more sustainable
production processes. In best-case scenarios, companies can create a closed-loop
system — where materials are reused, recycled or repurposed locally — for
optimal resource utilization.
Shorter supply chains also inherently lead to more effective communication and
coordination, including improved inventory management — reducing the likelihood
of overproduction and unnecessary
Nearshoring, therefore, contributes to the reduction of waste at multiple stages
of the manufacturing process — aligning with broader goals of sustainable and
The nearshoring movement presents a compelling case for a balanced approach to
the global supply chain that addresses both economic and environmental
imperatives. While the economic benefits of reduced lead times, enhanced
flexibility and risk mitigation are evident, the environmental advantages of
nearshoring underscore its role as a driver of supply chain sustainability and
It is crucial to acknowledge that the success of nearshoring as a sustainability
strategy depends on the commitment of businesses to adopt sustainable and
efficient practices at every stage of the production process. From responsible
sourcing of materials to the implementation of energy-efficient manufacturing
technologies, industry leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring that nearshoring
enhances environmental sustainability.
Nearshoring represents more than just a strategic business move; it embodies a
shift towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to
manufacturing. By shortening supply chains, optimizing resource utilization and
reducing waste, bringing supply chains closer to home not only enhances economic
resilience but also aligns with the global imperative of building a more
Published Jan 25, 2024 2pm EST / 11am PST / 7pm GMT / 8pm CET
Misha Govshteyn is CEO of Macrofab — a company on a mission to redefine the contract-manufacturing industry by developing a software-driven approach to make it faster and easier than ever to bring new electronic products to market.