Personalized products, delivered lighting fast. Who wouldn’t want to fulfill this ultimate customer fantasy? For a growing group of manufacturers, this is a dream no more; it’s reality. By offering products via an integrated “closed loop” – from shopping cart to shop floor to customer door – the customer gets a custom-made product with the price and delivery time of one that is mass produced. Now that’s a true revolution in the manufacturing industry.
End of the ‘theory of constraints’
For a long time, the essence of manufacturing – and the margins – has been in the optimization of planning and lot sizes. The outsourcing of production, or parts of it, is normally part of the process. Now I’m seeing that companies with the right composition of tools can bring production back to Europe. The biggest advantage? Transport time reduces significantly and pushes possible delivery times down to as little as one to two hours. And you know what that means – high customer satisfaction.
This also means the end of the age-old “theory of constraints” paradigm. Thinking that was once tied to production-process limitations has now been replaced by the process’ potential for flexibility and agility. It’s not just about working on an end product anymore, it’s also about producing parts. By dividing up the production process, products can be personalized – at the price of a mass-produced article. This in particular is a breakthrough for products with a short lifecycle.
Customer is king
It’s this flexibility that’s so appealing to manufacturers. That’s how the Austrian BRP-Rotax – specialist in built-in motors – can respond faster and better to market fluctuations. Moreover, production had to shift towards bespoke service and away from mass production.
BRP-Rotax is now working towards an agile production process where the customer is king. This is made possible by integrating its IT system into all processes on the factory floor. That means an overview into orders and supplies can be made in real time.
So, an order comes in directly from a customer’s digital shopping cart onto the production floor or work floor. Then, the production process commences and is rounded off with the delivery of the article to the customer’s home. This ensures the customer has the best experience possible.
But customer satisfaction isn’t just about costs and delivery times. Quality plays a big role as well. Products made in great volumes can sometimes turn out at reduced quality. With an integrated production, lots and batches disappear; each product is individually produced … except with the ease of the mass-produced process, thanks to powerful IT support. This ensures a low error percentage.
That’s what Electrolux encounters, too. With its Sense & React Program it has created an efficient and trustworthy workflow:
A closed-loop production process puts manufacturers in a position to make their customers’ greatest dreams come true: a unique, high-end product that is ordered, produced, and delivered with the speed and low costs of a mass product. Whatever you produce, you’ll deliver instant gratification.
Want to know more about the fourth industrial revolution? Read the online Flipboard magazine Industry 4.0.
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