Advanced manufacturing techniques are taking over from management strategies as the must-have competitive advantage for many U.S. firms, industry groups say. High-tech manufacturing processes combined with a drive for continuous innovation are enabling U.S. companies to remain competitive on the global market and to fend off low-cost foreign rivals. "It used to be that becoming lean or implementing Six Sigma was a competitive advantage," said Rusty Patterson, president and CEO of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing. "That's just a ticket for entry. ... You have to come up with unique ways to design, process or deliver goods that you're making in order to move forward."

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