Mass Customization.

Essay by fahed pharaon June 2003

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Grade A- Mass Customization is the custom tailoring of products or services to individual customers specifications. It attempts to achieve the economies of scale seen in mass production, while at the same time achieving the scope generally restricted to craftsmen.

Mass customization promises to provide customers with all of the features and benefits

that they value, at close to the same price that they can buy generic, mass produced products. One of the key features of the value proposition is that the product will be delivered with only a minor delay. This is revolutionary to a mass market that has grown accustomed to having to "make-do" with what was being offered. Historically, custom-made suggested a lengthly lead-time, and a significant premium. (In fact, it has become so in-grained that National Bicycle had to build a 2 week delay into the delivery of its customized bicycles because the perception was that a "quality" customized product could not possibly be built in the 3 day delivery that the company was promoting).

Any mass customization system has three fundamental features: First, it has a system for interfacing with customers to capture their specific needs. Second, it has a high degree of process flexibility. And finally, it must have a downstream logistics system that allows it to correctly route a customers specific product to its destination.

One of the critical features of the mass customization process is the ability of the vendor to gather information related to the customers preferences, and integrate these into his process. In order for this to work the vendor must have fully integrated information technology, that allows information to flow through each step of the process. In manufacturing processes, the information must be translated into "language" that can be used to drive the process. For example, digitized measurements captured...