Shortages in raw materials, patchy global supply chains and a volatile geopolitical situation: In view of these challenges, Europe is regaining ground as a manufacturing location, especially for high-tech companies.

The semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries are putting huge efforts into cutting back Europe‘s dependencies on suppliers like Asia or India. For other industries too, however, supply chains running along geopolitical flash points, expensive transport routes, and production in regions far away from the end markets are turning into risk factors. This is not only true for large groups of companies. Many medium-sized enterprises are currently reviewing their strategies. ”Supply and energy bottlenecks have made us painfully aware of the risks of dependency. People have experienced how chip shortages can translate into longer delivery times for their new cars. Even large companies have been plagued by supply  difficulties, despite their books being awash with orders“, pinpoints Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of the German industrial association SPECTARIS. Therefore, an essential element of a possible solution towards greater  independence is the repatriation of strategically relevant productions to Europe. It is an approach also increasingly favoured by politicians, as the European Chip Act demonstrates.

”The supply chains are and will remain international“, believes Franz Aigner, WILD Head of Business Development. ”Sourcing everything in Europe is not effective. A reversal of the outsourcing trend makes perfect sense, yet only in the case of sensitive, high-tech special areas such as photonic technologies, medical engineering, or high-end measurement technology“. Though this step may seem challenging, it is definitely feasible with a technology partner like WILD at your side. ”We have the expertise to manage such production transfers, the processes and, above all, the readiness to take on the task“, stresses WILD Group CTO Wolfgang Warum. More specifically, WILD supports firms willing to return to Europe in the following five central areas:


Relocating production processes is a highly complex undertaking. ”It will not suffice to just transfer material or know-how. It requires a detailed, anticipatory planning of processes, procurement, and quality management“, explains  Emmerich Kriegl, Head of Quality Management at WILD. Moreover, due to government requirements, rules, proper documentation, a structured material transfer management and, last but not least, the issue of speed, every production transfer is a project that requires an experienced hand to succeed. WILD is well-versed in efficiently integrating even complex projects into its operations. In addition to the overarching serial production transfer process, the Production Transfer Management System (PTMS) plays an important role. As a detailed project management tool, it supports the team in managing the overall process in a structured manner. Furthermore, it features well-proven checklists to ensure no details are  forgotten.

Especially in the case of medical technology products, the management of regulatory requirements works in both directions. ”Together with the customer, we determine which supporting documents are required for product  authorisation within the EU or overseas. Vice versa, we can provide competent assistance to partners outside the EU in creating the technical documentation for placing their products on the market within the European Union“, explains Alfred Michalek, Head of Quality Management at WILD Electronics.

At a later stage, expert personnel will also be required for manufacturing. Admittedly, this is a sore point for many industrial and technology firms throughout Europe. Yet WILD has a decisive advantage in this respect: ”Most of our sites are located on the periphery, where qualified personnel are still much easier to find. For that reason, we are in the privileged position of having access to plenty of qualified specialists“, stresses CTO Wolfgang Warum. Moreover, responsibilities are clearly distributed among the different sites within the company group. ”As a result, we can put together the right team for each task at hand, from cost-optimised assembly in Trnava/Slovakia to highly specialised professionals in development and manufacturing at our sites in Austria“, says Warum.

He knows he can rely on his staff‘s high level of expertise, but also on their readiness to work. ”Relocation projects only work when each and every individual is fully committed to the task“, Warum knows. This also includes the willingness to spend time abroad as part of a production transfer project. WILD Project Manager Alexandra Roth, for instance, was recently at a customer‘s site in the USA to locally manage the transfer of a medical product to Austria. This specifically involves a product used in dermatology for the visual analysis of cancer cells. Its unique feature: The confocal laser scanner microscope analyses the tissue examined within just a few minutes. As a result, patients can immediately undergo surgery in the case of a positive result. They thus avoid a second intervention and a lot of anxious waiting time.

Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of SPECTARIS, is convinced that a strong domestic market and the close linkage between development and production constitute the basis for the industries‘ high innovation level. The reason is that ”the feedback from customers is more direct.“ At WILD, too, customers benefit from the manufacturing-focused design of products. ”Our understanding of manufacturing tolerances and potential cost drivers entails a series of advantages. The same applies to our combination of diverse skills – from feasibility studies to modern simulation methods and prototyping to serial production“, says PHOTONIC Managing Director Manager Stefan Zotter. This is equally beneficial for companies that want to combine a repatriation of production with the modernisation of their products. WILD is the suitable partner because they can contribute their experience in re-engineering and know quite well how to keep a proven product profitable and attractive for the market‘s requirements.

Nowadays, anyone who develops a product must focus on an additional factor – the ability to deliver. One of the most important levers is a close interlinkage of procurement and development at the earliest stage possible. This is because today’s specifications will have an impact on the ability to deliver three or four years down the road. Moreover, in sensitive areas such as optics components like lenses or prisms, WILD relies on European partners. The primary objective is not only to deliver reliably but also to react to fluctuations in demand without any delays where possible. To ensure this, WILD employs an entire toolbox of retrieval and ordering models. The options range from simple orders with a fixed delivery deadline to rolling orders coupled with a Vendor Managed Inventory.