As part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment for the University of Cambridge, the Institute for Manufacturing requests impact statements from its industrial collaborators. This page gives statements from organsiations we have worked with, highlighting how our research makes a difference across some of the world’s largest multinationals.



IKEA and IfM ECS have conducted a number of projects since 2014 adapting research-based tools for use in ongoing strategic development within IKEA Industry’s global manufacturing and supply network. This covers solid wood and board-based furniture with sales value of approx. €3 500m/yr. Initial work focused on developing differentiated plant roles within the network design philosophy, which has more recently been extended to cover digital transformation under the banner ‘Manufacturing System of the Future’. Overall, this involves investment programmes totalling €15m/yr with targeted benefits of €5m/yr.


“We highly value our work with IfM ECS combining leading edge research with access to non competing peer insights. This applied science approach is a rare find in the domain of manufacturing”  

Per Berggren, Industrial Strategy Manager



Grundfos and IfM ECS have worked together since 2006 involving the tailoring and embedding of research-based tools to help guide strategic development of Grundfos’s global manufacturing and supply network. This initially covered a number of global product categories, followed by regional studies, make vs buy analysis and culminating in global integration to support a major corporate transformation plan launched in 2015-2016. This transformation involves typical annual investment of 30-50 m€/yr with targeted business benefits of 10-15 m€/yr. More recently, the collaboration has been extended to include support on Grundfos’s digital transformation programme, especially on a Digital Value Chain and Factory of the Future strategic initiatives.


“We highly value our work with IfM ECS in Optimizing our Global Footprint. We also value IfM ECS for their great Operations training course and networking opportunities with other Industrial companies.”

Stéphane Simonetta, Chief Operating Officer



Caterpillar and IfM ECS worked closely on tailoring and deploying an approach for defining their Global Manufacturing Network Strategy via a series of projects launched in 2004 and continuing to the present day.  Using a range of tools and frameworks that emerged from IfM research dating back to Shi & Gregory 1998, the results are embedded in Caterpillar’s standard strategy processes extending across the global enterprise, which involves sales of $55bn/yr. The approach is used amongst others, to help guide ongoing investment planning and optimization for global manufacturing development.


Over the last three years, Caterpillar has been a member of the IfM ECS Digital Supply Chain Consortium, involving deployment of novel, research-based tools to define a tailored digital transformation strategy across the end-to-end supply network of plants and multiple tiers of supply partners.


“These research-based approaches from IfM ECS have helped provide external inspiration in the formulation of our supply network strategies, enabling us to align global operations with market and technological drivers and extend our competitive advantage in best products, tailored service and full-life support.”  

Haydn Powell, Digital Manufacturing and Supply Chain Strategy Manager



"Emerson’s Measurement & Analytical Business Group has worked closely with IfM ECS during 2018,  creatively applying their research-based framework to our global manufacturing footprint.  While the overall project is just now entering the execution phase, the resulting strategy is helping guide our investment and optimization decisions for a network of over 30 plants.  The IfM methodology will also support the ongoing governance of this strategy, adjusting as market and business needs change.  Initial estimates suggest savings of over $30M from the initial 3-year phase of this new strategy. The engagement with IfM ECS was extremely helpful and productive.  The outcomes will have a lasting impact on the cost position and speed of our global plant network and dramatically improve how we serve our customers around the world."

Jim Schreiner, Senior Vice President, Global Operations/Supply Chain, Measurement & Analytical Group



Signify and IfM ECS have worked closely on tailoring and deploying a range of approaches emerging from IfM research for use in Global Manufacturing Network Strategy development with focus on three key areas. The first involved development of Manufacturing Footprint Strategy for the three main global business divisions within Signify during the period 2014-16. The second area of collaboration has involved Signify’s participation in the Digital Supply Chains Consortium (since 2016 and ongoing) where tools from IfM research have helped to guide the ongoing digital transformation programmes. The third area involves use of IfM tools on Digital Supply Chains Modelling during 2018-19 to help formulate a major strategy for moving to a distributed manufacturing approach.


“We highly value our connection with the leading research at IfM in helping to develop best practice in global manufacturing and supply chain strategy.”

Bas Klawer, Head of Global Manufacturing



Impact statements for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 submission


“Our work with IfM has resulted in innovative strategy tools – linked to original research – that have been embedded as part of our on-going strategic processes. These are helping to guide significant investments [~£0.25Bn] in our supply chain that will generate tangible business value over the life of the investments [>£0.75Bn], and which will contribute to competitive differentiation.” 

Director of Corporate Planning, Rolls-Royce


“We are one of the world’s largest manufacturers, with sales approaching $50bn, and the main reason for starting this process was to secure the long-term optimisation of our production network. Over time the ‘burning platform’ has changed but the process remained the same, allowing us to constantly update the vision as conditions evolve.”

Manager of Global Production Network Planning, Caterpillar


“We highly value our work with the IfM in contributing inspiring thinking to help us constantly step up in our approach to optimising end-to-end operations.”

Chief Operating Officer, LEGO


“This project forms a major part of our corporate business strategy and will help to guide the optimisation of our footprint of over 45 plants around the world. This will drive structural changes in terms of cost reduction and responsiveness to customers which will underpin our future competitive differentiation.”

SVP of Global Manufacturing Operations, Electrolux


“The aim of the collaboration was to develop and direct the Global Manufacturing Strategy which will expand our global production capabilities in developing markets around the world, as well as re-aligning our existing production into manufacturing centres of excellence within an optimised network.  Our goal is to significantly improve our operating efficiencies, lower our overall cost structure and implement new technologies more effectively, whilst not compromising service, quality or EHS.”

VP of Global Manufacturing, Sealed Air


“The network design tools developed by the Centre for International Manufacturing provide a structured approach to develop industrial capability and how the proactive reconfiguration of the network can shape future engineering and industrial capability across the design-build-service-support operation. We have used these methods and supporting tools to help design and down select options for our Engineering operating framework.”
Engineering Director Systems and Strategy MAI, BAE Systems


“The study has enabled Huawei to articulate its Global Supply Chain Strategy for Wireless Products for the first time, with a detailed capability assessment activity setting out development and implementation opportunities. The detailed analysis is now available for the company to exploit as it supports the move to 4G as well as for geographic growth opportunities around the world.”
Senior Specialist, Supply Strategy Planning, Huawei


“Our work with IfM ... has resulted in the building of 3 new factories within Europe and significant transfer between the factories in Europe in general. And it has supported an average annual growth of 8%.”
Group SVP, Grundfos