8 07, 2013

Amoonic Continues to Excell in Custom Jewellery, Pulled In Huge Investment

By | 2018-06-14T06:46:54+00:00 Juli 8th, 2013|Cases-Industrial, Design, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

AmoonicLast year at pretty much this time we published an interview with Sabine Linz of Amoonic, a company offering customized jewellery from all price ranges online. Fortunately, Amoonic has not suffered the same fate that many startups do, making critical mistakes and disappearing after a short period of existance. In fact, Amoonic just announced that Business Angel Marlon Ikels, the man behind galleryy.net, has invested a six-digit amount into the future expansion of the company. You can download the official press release here (in German).

Sabine_linzThis gave us the opportunity to interview Sabine once again, asking about the development of the past year and the future of mass customized jewellery.

FTP: Sabine, it has been about a year since our last
interview about Amoonic. How have things developed since then?

SL: In the
meantime we broadened our designer product range by a huge variety of jewellery
pieces. In addition to that, the technology in the background was enhanced a
lot. For example an open configurator was added to simplify the customization process
for our customers. Another example is the new 3D product preview. We developed
some great cooperations within the jewellery online market. Besides we tested a
lot on our website and developed a new system for producing jewellery in a
digital way.

FTP: How do you see the market for mass customized
goods today?

SL: I think,
today mass customized goods are not simply a trend anymore, you can find them
everywhere and people love them. Customization is now a well-established
approach and customized goods have become more or less mainstream. People nowadays
expect to be able to customize their products.

FTP: Can you go into a bit of detail on what you
want to do with the huge investment you got? What are your plans?

SL: Since a lot
of work on the technology side was done over the last year we are in the lucky
position to be able to invest most of the money in Marketing. We like to see
Amoonìc expand more and more to be internationally known as soon as possible.

FTP: You mentioned that Amoonic now offers
individually crafted jewellery on request. Can you tell us which diamond dreams
you can make a reality?

SL: In
principle, everything is possible. Our motto is: “If you can dream it, you can
do it”. But of course, any technical details have to be considered J . Our customers enjoy the freedom to
make their dreams come true and our designers are ready to assist them in case
of questions. More and more people use this opportunity and also the B2B sector
is highly interested in purchasing customized goods for their clients.

FTP: Any tips you can give entrepreneurs who want to
venture into any niche of mass customized products or services?

SL: Keep
smiling, be smart and exhaustless. Honestly, it is important not only to focus
on a configurator. Show all products on your web presence, give examples and
don´t let the user think. Furthermore, in my opinion, an extraordinary customer
support is more than a requirement today!

FTP: Are you looking for any specialists to expand
your team within the next time?

SL: We are
always looking for specialists. Good people are hard to find. Our new partner
and Business Angel, Marlon Ikels, is an ecommerce expert and we are more than
happy to have him in our team. Among others, he is founder of www.galleryy.net. He´s great and it is always good to get more
knowledge. We love to work with him.

 More about Amoonic on www.amoonic.de

5 07, 2013

ShopBot Introduces 3D-Cutter: Handibot Smart Power Tool, Driven by Crowdsourced Apps

By | 2018-06-14T06:47:00+00:00 Juli 5th, 2013|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, Technologies & Enablers|

Information below originating from ShopBot Tools press realease of Thursday, June 27, 2013.

ShopBot Tools, Inc., has recently launched a
Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to support development
and distribution of its latest hardware innovation, the Handibot smart power

The Handibot Smart Power Tool is a portable robotic power tool designed to enhance creativity
and productivity at construction and remodeling jobsites, in rapid prototyping,
and in countless DIY projects. The Handibot tool features an App-Driven,
one-button “Start;" it can be run from a smartphone or tablet, as well as
from PC's
.  If you've heard of 3D
printers, then think of the Handibot as a '3D Cutter' — you can use the
Handibot to cut, drill, and carve in wood, plastic, and aluminum with
computer-controlled precision.

ShopBot President Ted Hall explained, "The Handibot
tool delivers precision cutting, drilling, machining, and carving. That's
because full-up CNC (computer-numerically-controlled) technology is operating
'behind the scenes.' The Handibot tool features uncompromised components for
open development and expansion of functionality
(6-axis control, I/O, power,
configurability)." ShopBot developer David Bryan emphasized, "CNC
tools are not usually thought of as job-site friendly. With traditional
industrial CNC, you have to take your material to the CNC tool. With the
Handibot, you can bring the tool to the material, wherever you need to

The Kickstarter campaign will fund an initial production
run of Handibot power tools by ShopBot, and also enable development of a
web-based eco-system where anyone with ideas for apps can collaborate with app
developers in an open source software and hardware environment.
"One company
can't possibly come up with all the interesting job apps that can be put to
work with a Handibot tool," Ted Hall explains. "So we look to the
crowd to think of apps for the tool and work together in developing them.
See the campaign at handibot.com/fund.

Here is the kickstarter promotion video on Handibot.


More about the Handibot at www.handibot.com.

10 09, 2012

[Book Review] The Lean Enterprise: From the Mass Economy to the Economy of One

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:01+00:00 September 10th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial|

Lean management as a tool to improve corporate performance is nothing new. However, a book discussing lean management in light of the customer-centric economy has not been around. 

"The Lean Enterprise", a practically-focused new book by Alexander Tsigkas, covers exactly this intersection. Alexander Tsigkas is an Assistant Professor at Democritus University of Thrace, Greece, and a Mass Customization enthusiast since many years.

The Lean Enterprise CoverThe Lean Enterprise: From the Mass Economy to the Economy of One, by Alexander Tsigkas. Published by Springer.

The book is divided into three part:

Part I. The rising
economy of “one” gives an overview of what is changing in the social
system of production, focusing on the shrinking role of central planning
and the rising power of individuation in the value creation chain. 

Part II. "Lean
eEnterprise in theory" refers to the principles of lean thinking, the
transfer of lean philosophy from East to West, and discusses the
necessary adaptation to the Western way of thinking and practice. It
presents a practice-proven method for achieving a lean integrated demand
and supply chain and analyses in detail the related implementation
steps. Criteria for the successful transition of a company to a lean
state are presented.

Part III. "Lean Enterprise in Practice" provides a number of implementation cases in different types of
production companies using the method presented in Part II. The goal is
to help the reader comprehend how the method can be applied to real
lean implementation situations in resolving various issues, ranging from
production to the supply chain. A vision of implementation to lean
electricity rounds out the book.

In his book, Alexander Tsigkas

  • shows a methodical step-by-step way to design and implement lean
    management, in production, in logistics in cost accounting and
    procurement and in Sales and Marketing 
  • demonstrates numerous case studies from a wide range of industrial fields, helping the reader to learn how to proceed from theory to practice quickly   
  • presents a unique way of how to use the method for repositioning lean management when needed
  • offers a European way to lean management: a method-based
    implementation instead of a principle and tools based Japanese philosophy.


Alexander tsigasIn an email interview, we has some questions for the author. Here are the answers.

FTP: For
interested readers it is not difficult to find books on lean management, lean
enterprise, lean production and so on. What sets your new book apart from the
already existing competition on the market?

AC: What I wanted to achieve with this book is to merge "Lean Thinking" and "Lean Practice" with the increasingly individualization and
customization of products and services addressing markets of one.
This is not
only a technical aspect, but as as far as I am concerned, this mix comprises
the key substrate of a new social system of production currently emerging away
from mass production.

A large number of the books available in the market
reproduce lean principles based on the Toyota Production System without any
critical reflection as whether they fit or not the western way of thinking and
acting. They are usually of general purpose and case studies from real factory
life are limited. Last but most important, they realy do not reveal how exactly
"pull" in the factory can be achieved, and if they do there is no method
behind as to how to design optimal "pull" of work and materials in
different production environments.

FTP: In your book you present a “European way” to lean management Can you explain what exactly that means and what is
unique about it?

AC: In Europe and I would add also the US, production is driven
mainly by engineers. The western way of thinking and acting is more engineering
oriented and less workers oriented as it is the case in Japan where the culture
of continuous improvement is written into their "DNA" (sort of
saying). In Europe (and the US), engineering based factory means that
improvements come mainly through the engineers, who love to design systems
(also production systems), set them for operation in production, observe them
for some period of time and if they need improvement they redesign some part of
it or all of it, at some point in time.

The every day continuous improvement way
of the Japanese is culturally not compatiblble with the western way of thinking
and acting. Where it is implemented, it is executed imposed by force by the
management, with usually high effort and therefore costs compared to
the benefits achieved. Why therefore impose a way of lean thinking and practice
that is strange to the local culture and not using the culture to proceed at a
methodical and more engineering based way of Design for Lean Production and
time discontinued improvement? 

FTP: Which
groups do most benefit from reading your book? Is is aimed more towards the
manager in a large multinational company or can SME profit from the findings
and implications as well?

AC: The book is aimed towards both the manager
in a large multinational company as well as the managers of an SME. Exactly
because it a method based process, it can be adapted and used to be
implemented in many different company environments. The cases show exactly how to adapt and implement the method in large
enterprises as well as SME. Almost half of the book is
dedicated to implementations covering various cases and

Furthermore, this book also addresses the academic community
which needs more insight into the theory and method that support lean in
connection to customization practice.

FTP: Alexander, thank you very muc — and I hope your book will find a wide audience.  See you at the MCP-CP 2012.

29 08, 2012

The next big trend in innovation management: Reverse Innovation: A book review and how does this relate to open innovation

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:15+00:00 August 29th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial, General, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Reverse Innovation as seen by Google Image Search

Reverse Innovation as seen by Google Image Search

I am sometimes asked what is the next big trend in innovation management. Given a number of recent discussions and observations, I would now bet high stakes that "Reverse Innovation" will be the idea that will shape our understanding of innovation management a lot in the next years.


The term reverse innovation, in short, describes how innovations made in the so-called developing countries can often lay the foundations for product innovations in the "developed" world. More often than not, these are relatively cheap yet efficient new concepts which can seriously callenge products on an existing "western" market — they often are a source of disruptive innovation.

Developing countries are catching up on the knowledge- and technology gap and with that comes an increased chance for major innovations to be born in these countries. And this is where open innovation thinking comes into play: 

  • First, we know from lead user research that lead users often develop novel innovations under extreme conditions. Developing countries often provide these extreme conditions (budget, but also climate or working conditions) — hence leading to a high incentive to innovate in a functional novel way.
  •  Second, a core idea of OI is to get input from unobvious others — this is where broadcast search helps a lot. And developing countries offer a great potential for "unobvious" sources of ideas.
  • Third, when established companies develop a product for a new market that demands a "good enough" solution that only costs 10% of the comparable established "western" product, they are often forced to look into very new fields and approaches — input that often only can be acquired by looking beyond the firm's borders.

Hence, for established companies, reverse innovation offers both a source often "open" thinking and input for the own innovation process, and at the same time demands new approaches and networks.

 If you want to learn more about reverse innovation, there is one book to read:

Copyright Harward Business Review Press, all rights reserved!Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere

Written by: Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble, Indra K. Nooyi (Foreword)

Availible at Amazon: Hardcover Edition, Kindle Edition

Prof. Vijay Govindarajan
( Tuck School of Business ) is the leading scholar researching this field. Together with his collegue Chris Trimble he has recently published his new book about the topic which I read in my recent summer vacation.

The book is an easy read: In part one, Govindarajan and Trimble describe in rather brief form how major companies are beginning to realize that the popular concept of glocalization is not necessarily the best approch to conquer new markets. They describe the flaws on the concept and why reverse innovation promisses better results in many cases.

Glocalization refers to the business concept often associated with the saying "Think Global, Act Local", in practice realized by taking an already existing product and adapting it to new target markets. If the target market is part of the developing world, these adaptions are usually severe downgrades.

Govindarajan/Trimble explain that these downgraded products are in fact often not what the target market needs – or even wants. Each market requires products fitting it's specific needs and given resources. And that is something that can often no be achieved by just stripping product features to allow a cheapter retail price.

The authors show how reverse innovation can help to overcome this barrier. By inventing locally, right at the target market, instead of at home, far away from the conditions and actual customers, companies can be enabled to develop the exactly right product for the market – not a stripped down version of an existing good.

While reverse innovation is the more risky, more pricy alternative at first glance, and many internal and external obstacles have to be overcome, the described advantages are remarkable: Not only can a company better tackle local markets in the developing world. Products invented abroad have a high potential of being cheaper, offent radically innovative and can potentially be engineered to become suitable alternatives for existing products on the companie's home market as well. The innovations made abroad come back home: Reverse innovation.

Part two of the book has eight business cases in which the conecpt is applied and explained why it is advantageous over other approaches. These include companies like Logitech, P&G, EMC, Deere, Harman, GE Healthcare and PepsiCo.

So, in conclsuion, a very interesting concept, and important idea, and a good read!

14 08, 2012

Interview: Edward Witlox of RHIEM Services: Logistics for Mass Customization … for Build-A-Bear Europe and others

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:29+00:00 August 14th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Interview, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Courtesy of RHIEM Services, www.rhiem.com. all rights reserved!Mass customization companies are different from "normal" ones in a number of ways, like their need for a very well working webshop/ configurator that lets the consumer configure his dream-product in an easy yet powerful way. Or the special logistics setup required to produce/ assemble a customized product right after the customer submitted his order and to ensure timely delivery to his doorstep.

From my experiences with MC companies, especially small and medium sized ones, these logistical matters can be a serious barrier when ventures reach a critical number of sales and need to scale up their fulfillment and/ or webshop system.

Witlox, EdAt the MC2012 conference in June I had the pleasure of meeting Edward Witlox, Director of Business Development & Sales at RHIEM Services, a German company originally founded as a printing service provider which has since then successfully evolved into an alround e-logistics expert. As part of their efforts to positon themselves as a partner for MC companies they are, amongst others, responsible for a lot of steps in the logistics chain of Build-A-Bear, famous seller of individualized plush bears.

Edward was so kind to agree on giving us an interview about his views on the logistics aspect of MC, barriers faced and ways to overcome them, and why it can be mission critical for expanding companies to get a strong (e-)logistics partner in time.

FTP: Edward, you told me that RHIEM Services sees itself as a B2B service provider for all logistical needs of mass customization companies. This is an interesting value proposition. So what is it in more detail?

EW: RHIEM is a so called 3PL+ or Value Added Logistics Service Provider, offering, directly and indirectly, a complete of set of logistic services, e.g. (bonded) central warehousing incl. B2B & B2C fulfilment (pick, pack & ship), handling of returns, and of course all shipping. But we also developed into offering customized assembly and production of products for each individual consumer of our clients. And we can manage the complete e-commerce platform or a shopping cart plugin for existing web shops.

FTP: This sounds impressive, but how scalable are your customization services?

EW: Based on a very robust logistic process design (in terms of structure, systems, skills, staff, strategy, style and shared values) RHIEM offers services, scalable to the changing needs of its customers, allowing organizations with no warehouse capacity or without a large enough staff or expertise to manage inventory and orders, saving them costs, while offering a degree of flexibility. As a result, companies of all types are serviced with unlimited scalability.

Several of our current customers which started working with RHIEM while they were a start-up considerably grew during the years, also due to a very good cooperation between parties.

FTP: Pretend I was an entrepreneur on the MC market. How do I profit from contracting with a large company like yours?

EW: Entrepreneurs acting on the MC market will face a momentum to consider whether they remain doing the logistics themselves or decide to outsource. In the later case they will need a partner with a robust logistic process being capable of seamlessly aligning to the processes of the customer company. Being scalable in every facet, without any minimum restrictions to organizational size, turnover or storing volumes to start the cooperation, RHIEM guarantees entrepreneurs an enduring long term logistic solution. RHIEM is such a Service Provider.

As an ecommerce company, MC companies are still acting as a niche player, because their customer base will be mainly exist out of early adaptors of their products. These companies might extend their market, by going cross border. In those cases there are very few LSP’s, offering a scalable ecommerce platform with payment methods for every European country with features like multi-languages, multicurrency and VAT handling; completely integrated with a warehouse management system.

FTP: In your company you are especially responsible for MC clients. From your professional experience in the last years, what separates a mass customization company from a "traditional" one in terms of logistics needs?

EW: From out of a logistic perspective MC companies have a more demanding, intensive and complex logistic process, which also changes over time more rapidly. In general, offering a broad variety of product attributes or combinations to realize a customized product, results in a more complex manufacturing and assembling process, demanding more resources, with a bigger risk on mistakes, resulting in higher costs.

By provisioning flexible, but robust logistic processes, RHIEM is capable of matching complex customization demands, eliminating the risks, against slightly higher logistic costs.

FTP: One of your larger clients is Build-A-Bear Germany. What exactly do you do for them?

Buildabear workshopEW: RHIEM operates the complete B2C e-logistics for BAB, hosting and managing the web shop in terms of e-fulfillment. Actually we host the complete product catalogue and shopping cart. In practice this means that we handle the orders and take care of the financial receipt. After the payment is received, we do the picking of the chosen bear and its attributes, followed by the assemblage. Before packing the product in an eye-catching shipping carton, a fully personalized birth certificate of the bear is printed and added to the bear. Finally, we take care of the distribution of the parcels in Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Besides this, we also take care of the B2B fulfilment, by replenishing the BAB stores.

Both logistic flows are being preceded by the main logistic product flow from the manufacturer towards our central warehousing, with RHIEM taking care of these flow as well as the customs clearance for entering Europe.

FTP: Can you give any other interesting examples of MC clients you are working for and what was/is special about your cooperation?

EW: RHIEM services several clients with our Full Color Digital Print-On-Demand techniques, producing high quality individualized marketing materials.

FTP: Do you see logistics as a barrier for growing MC companies which did or are about to make the jump from a few dozen to several thousand sold articles each month? What can be done to overcome this barrier?

EW: All companies jumping from a few to numerous sold articles per month will face a momentum that logistics will become a big hurdle. Especially for MC companies, offering a large variety of product attributes, this hurdle is becoming an even larger barrier. To overcome such a barrier, MC companies do have to make a strategic decision, to ‘make or buy’. Because for many MC companies logistics are not their core competence, seriously hampering their organizational growth, it is wise to consider outsourcing in an early stage or invest heavily in resources and gaining logistic knowledge to do themselves.

FTP: MC is definitively a trend. What does it mean for logistics companies like RHIEM?

EW: With its ambition to become a Mass Customization Logistics Expert, RHIEM will have to extend their e-manufacturing and e-assembly capabilities, like embroidering and engraving to align with several kinds of modularity methods.

FTP: Which changes are you awaiting in the coming years and how do you adapt to best position yourself?

EW: While Europe is still experiencing a delay in cross border ecommerce (on avg. 4-6% of total sales) this situation is changing due to the reduction or even elimination of cross border barriers. RHIEM already has a major competitive advantage in handling cross border fulfilment. Now also optimizing its reverse logistics capabilities it will cover the complete forward & reverse logistics internationally.

Specifically on the MC trend we will face more and more companies adapting any type of mass customization, emerging from segmented standardization into tailored or even pure customization. RHIEM will align with these developments by anticipating and proactively investing in the resources, essential for deploying its manufacturing and assembling activities efficiently and effectively, resulting in the fact that RHIEM continuously will be able to stay tuned with changing customer demands.

FTP: Did you (have to) adapt a lot to satisfy the needs and wishes of your MC clients?

EW: Adapting to satisfy the needs and wishes of our clients is one of our core competences. Historically RHIEM transformed from originally a printing company into a Value Added LSP by adapting to changing customer demands. Nowadays this is one of RHIEM’s values, actively investing based on customer demand or trends to ‘Stay One Step Ahead’.

FTP: From your observations and experiences with MC companies so far, which tips and advises would you like to give in regards to the logistic challenges they are/ will be facing?

EW: The success of MC is in the execution

[not only in the concept]. The logistic process is essential in this stage and crucial for satisfying the customer. Due to the fact that technologies follow each other even faster and customer demands are changing more rapidly in the future, it will be mandatory for a MC company to adapt to these developments. Logistics will thereby become more and more one of the key differentiators between success and failure of a MC initiative.

By focusing on marketing, sales and customer service, MC companies will have a daytime job to deploy these activities well. In those cases, they need to rely on a proactive flexible, but robust logistic partner. RHIEM is ready for it, to fill in this role successfully on behalf of the customer!

FTP: Edward, thank you very much for these interesting insights and outlooks! Im definitively looking forward to follow your work in the coming years and see which ways you come up with to improve e-logistics for MC companies.

More information about RHIEM Services at their company website and also on twitter.

27 07, 2012

Updated and realistic market data on personal 3D printers

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:42+00:00 Juli 27th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Design, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

3D printing or additivae manufactuing is a hot topic today. Recently, I found this absurdly expensive market study on 3D printing (never had the idea that you can charge $100 per figure). But since many year, my best source about this topic has been Terry Wohlers.

TerrywohlersTerry is president of Wohlers Associates, Inc., an independent consulting firm he founded more than 25 years ago. Through this company, Wohlers has provided consulting assistance to more than 170 organizations in 23 countries. Also, he has provided lots of advise to the investment community. And on top, he really is a great guy!

On his blog, Wohlers Talk, he regularly posts interesting news from and views on how the industry evolves, put into perspective by matching it with his years of professional experience.

Recently he published some interesting thoughts on 3D-printers. As can be seen from the latest Wolters Report on the state-of-the-art and development of additive manufacturing and 3d-printing, sales figures of said 3d-printers have been dramatically increasing over the past years.

The report states that especially personal 3D-printers sales have grown by 289% in 2011. Yet, this is said to account for not more than about 26 million USD so far, making this market appear to hold a lot of potential.

However, in his post, Terry describes the market potential for presonal 3D-printers in a rather disillusionating yet more realistic fashion:

Wohlers Talk: Why Most Adults Will Never Use a 3D Printer

Many have speculated on whether everyday consumers will purchase and use a 3D printer. With prices dipping to $350 for a kit and $550 for an assembled system, they are certainly affordable. Some believe that a 3D printer will someday be in every home and used to produce replacement parts as household products break or wear out.

As shown by Shapeways, Materialise, FutureFactories, Ponoko, and others, consumers are definitely interested in products made by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Shapeways claims to be producing more than 90,000 parts (about 25,000 products) per month by AM, with a high percentage going to consumers. For years, Materialise’s .MGX division has offered striking lighting designs, sculptures, and other products, with consumers paying hundreds of euros for one of them.

Indeed, consumers have an appetite for products made by additive manufacturing. However, most consumers will never own or operate a machine to produce these products. Instead, they will go to Shapeways, Amazon, or to another service or storefront to purchase these products. Most will not know, or even care, how the products were made—no different from the way they now purchase products. Consumers only care about receiving good value.

Someday, a company will offer a very low-cost, easy-to-use, and safe 3D printer targeted at children. This market opportunity, I believe, is very big because children like to imagine, create, touch things, play, and entertain themselves. These kids will be producing vehicles, action figures, puzzles, and just about everything imaginable. They are our future designers, engineers, and manufacturing professionals.

Most parents and adults are not candidates for a 3D printer. They do not want to mess with the data, manufacturing process, clean-up, and finishing of parts and products. Even if they owned or had access to a machine, it would probably not be capable of producing parts in the right material with the mechanical properties, color, surface finish, and texture needed for the part(s) they are trying to create or replace. These types of parts will continue to be produced by industry professionals and that’s why most adults will never use a 3D printer.

Source: Wohlers Talk, http://wohlersassociates.com/blog/2012/07/why-most-adults-will-never-use-a-3d-printer/ (July 26th 2012)


26 07, 2012

Interview: Andreas Krönke of Stickvogel: A Promissing B2B Approach to Service Customization

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:47+00:00 Juli 26th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Interview, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright Stickvogel, www.stickvogel.de, all rights reserved!Most mass customization happens in the world of B2C, where a business sells its products to consumers which they have individualized to tehir needs. However, there are a number of B2B approaches as well, MC-companies offering customized services to other companies. I have called these business models "MC platforms", and they are one of the strongest developments in the field.

One of these MC platform is Stickvogel. The venture from Berlin, Germany, has been in the market of embroidery for almost 10 years now and has recently signed a deal with Butlers, a leading German "stuff" retailer (think of IKEA without the furniture, and located on high street). Certainly is a big success for a small MC company! Like with Butlers, Stickvogel enables vendors of embroidable goods to offer their consumers individualized products.

Copyright Stickvogel, www.stickvogel.de, all rights reserved!Core piece of their portfolio is a specialized configurator which can be integrated into the vendor's own web presence. Furthermore, Stickvogel takes the burden of production, logistics and backoffice services off their partner's shoulders, significantly lowering the barrier for companies to enter the market of mass customized products. 

Motivated by the great successes of the past years, the team around CEO Philip Siefer has expanded their offerings to engraving and canvas printing and are planning to broaden their portfolio further. 

All rights reserved!At the MC2012 in June we had the chance to talk to Andreas Krönke, head of public relations at Stickvogel, who kindly granted us a lot of insight into their business experiences, plans for the future, and views on mass customization in general

FTP: Andreas, Stickvogel is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. Can you tell a bit about the evolution of your business?

AK: Philip, our CEO, had the Stickvogel idea in 2003. Later Stephan joined Philip and they both started the whole business in Ilmenau, where they were studying media technology at the Ilmenau University of Technology. In the first years Stickvogel was a manufacturer of personalized textiles. The focus of the company was B2C.  Then, we got IKEA as our customer. In 2006 we started with embroidering in-store in more and more IKEA stores, primarily during the time before christmas.

Last year, our cooperation with the German retailer Butlers began and we turned more into a software startup. We developed a configurator which easily enables the user to personalize a broad range of products in a very qualitative way. At the moment we offer, of course, embroidery, but also engraving and canvas print.

FTP: Your approach is (now) one of a B2B service provider. Can you outline what exactly you offer to companies?

AK: Our most important product has become our configurator. We offer the whole software package to companies which then use it in the B2C market. But not only we offer the software with back-office. Also we produce all personalized products with our very own machinery. However, it's also possible for our partners to produce products with their own machines. You see, our processes are very flexible. Finally we can overtake the complete logistics and cover the whole service like storage, customization and shipping.

FTP: You offer full service, and deal with big players. But your team seems not to be very large. How do you handle both the workload and the risk of peaks during which your capacities might not suffice to deal with all the orders? And how scalable is the package you offer?

AK: Good question. What is very important for us, is automation. All processes have to be really optimized and we always try to make it even more easy for our team in the production. Everything should happen in the quickest way possible.

Our package is very scalable and flexible. We can satisfy big customers as well as small ones like Sox & Boxers. They sell, as one could assume by the name, socks and boxer shorts. With our service they're able to personalize their textiles. And we take care of everything: storage, embroidery, pick and pack, shipping.

FTP: Besides embroiding you do also offer printing and engraving. Did that open up new markets for you? Does it work with your existing infrastructure or are major changes needed to add these techniques to your product portfolio?

AK: Everything starts with a challenge. It's always exciting to add a new product to our portfolio. But our system is so adoptable that it was no problem to integrate these new techniques. In the future we can fulfill even more wishes of our customers and, like that, explore new markets.

FTP: With Butlers you have a rather large vendor as a business partner. Can you tell about how cooperating between a company your size and their size works out in every day business?

AK: Butlers is an exceptional company with a flat hierarchy. Furthermore they are really open minded. That makes it really easy and pleasant to work with them quite close.

FTP: Many smaller MC businesses will be eager to ask one question: How did you manage to establish contact and get into a cooperation with such a large partner?

AK: Actually we were quite lucky. We had a sales promotion at IKEA, where people could experience embroidery live. There we also attracted the attention of Wilhelm Josten, the CEO of Butlers, actually more the one of his wife. By chance Philip himself was there at this very day and so the contact was set up. Philip and Wilhelm Josten kept on talking over many weeks. Don't think that pitching only lasts ten minutes. Adjustments to fit into their value creation chain were not necessary, though. By the way, the same thing happened with IKEA, they saw us during a sales promotion at Breuninger Erfurt.

FTP: Can you talk about some of your business figures and their development over time at all?

AK: We could double or triple our turnover almost every year. In 2011 it was by 300.000 Euros. But please don't tell anyone!

FTP: Which advise would you give someone starting their own MC business?

AK: At first, be passionated about what you do. If you don't love what you do, don't do it. Always stay focused and keep the overview. And don't spend to much money. Of course, we sometimes were in difficult situations, but they've never been an obstacle for us.

FTP: How important do you rate the use of social media not only to promote ones MC-company but also interact with consumers to better position oneselve in the market?

AK: Social media is definitely a key topic. Social media is MC in the internet. We're using many social media channels like of course Facebook and Twitter, where we post contributions about twice a week. But we want to increase our communication more and more, provided that our fans and followers like that. We also really like to get feedback or messages via Twitter and Facebook. But we do not only use these services. We also like YouTube to give people the possibility to peek behind the scences of Stickvogel. And we have a corporate blog that you can find on our website stickvogel.com. The use of social media is very naturally to us and it became completely common. We also use social media for internal communication. In one sentence: We love social media.

FTP: Are you considering to open up a B2C web-shop of your own, with a configurator like a "classical" MC company?

AK: Yes, we do! Keep your eyes open. Silberäffchen

[Silver Monkey] will go live soon. It is a web-shop specialized on engraving of silver products. [UPTADE: Silberäffchen has gone into beta and can be accessed via www.silberaeffchen.de]

FTP: Are there any other new products or projects in planning for you? What can we expect next?

AK: We will acquire lots of more customers in the next weeks and develop the next version of our configurator, an even better back-office and a magento plug-in. And we hope that we can offer more MC techniques. To not discriminate against other animals we want to launch an online shop for every animal. Silberäffchen is just the beginning. Besides we always have some fun projects. But those are mostly secret – for now.

FTP: Andreas, I hope your new projects will work out as well for you as your past ones and I am sure we will keep hearing about you.

All details about Stickvogel can be found on their company website, www.stickvogel.com! And to get a sneak peak of what their production looks like, here is a video for you!


20 07, 2012

Featured Research: Open Innovation in the German Automobile Industry

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:55+00:00 Juli 20th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!German cars are the best in the world. While I can see this statement instantly being challenged by some, the international reputation of and demand for German cars, especially in the high price segment is pretty high.

A brand new study by German innovation expert Ili Consulting shows that the advantages of open innovation have been understood by managers of German car manufacturers and their suppliers.

While companies like BMW, Audi, or Daimler have been forrunners in customer co-creaton via ideation contests, I did not see much OI on the technical level in German Big Auto.

This 2012 edition of the study "Open Innovation in der Automobilindustrie" is the second iteration after a similar survey in 2009. Comparison impressively shows that more and more of the asked managers on the middle, higher and top level follow the trend to get their company's research from a closed to an open one, thereby laying grounds for the harvest of the great innovation potential that the crowd of consumers is.


Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!

Comparison chart of manager's answers from the 2009 and 2012 iterations of the study. Clear shift towards open innovation

As has been said by many participating mangers, highly innovative ideas are short in supply. These are, however, one of the most valuable goods a technology company can have, and also the most important advantage Germany has on the international market.

The understanding that the old credo of "we have all the experts we need in house" no longer works in todays fast, interconnected markets and that flexibility and openness for external input, both for criticism and ideas, is crucial to mission success, has finally gotten a solid foothold in headquarters of majors and SMEs alike.

Open innovation is, however, not as easy as putting a website up, asking for ideas. There is much more to it to successfully tap into the wisdom reservoir of the crowd, and without competent guidance by experienced innovation consultants, opening oneself's knowledge stock up to the masses can be a risky venture.

For those of you engaged in businesses where your market share and revenues depend on technological advantage and satisfied customers (not only car-industry specific), the  study may hold some very interesing findings regarding the market, the progress from open to closed innovation, sources of innovation and their rating by practitioners as well as actual obstacles one will face when opening innovation.

The study can be obtained by contacting Ili Consulting directly. For contact information please refer to the contact section of their homepage (while writing about open innovation,, they were not open enough to provide the study as "open access").

10 07, 2012

Conference Report MC2012: The German Mass Customization Community Meeting

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:16+00:00 Juli 10th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MC/OI on the Web, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright FH Salzburg, http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=fh%20salzburg&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fh-salzburg.ac.at%2F&ei=EoPxT5vBMqqg4gTRqfncDQ&usg=AFQjCNFVR6AyMuGxHyBpGzKbuuuWdY_6jQ&cad=rja, all rights reserved!Unless you started following my blog just now, there is no way you could potentially have missed the announcements, special editions and features about the MC2012. This year's edition of the largest MC conference in German language, hosted by Dominik Walcher, Paul Blazek and myself, took place on 29th of June.

Despite the early time of day, the air already started to flicker from the upcoming heat of what promissed to be a really nice summer day at the marvellously desgined building of the University of Applied Sciences near edge of the Alp mountains in Salzburg, Austria.

About 150 professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all parts of the mass customization landscape in the German experienced a tightly packed day dedicated to the opportunities of customer co-design.

Copyright TIM Lehrstuhl, www.tim.rwth-aachen.de, all rights reserved!

Panoramic audience shot. Click to enlarge!

And what a day it was! A buzzing audience followed the presentations of no less than 24 speakers, ranging from young entrepreneurs, telling the tale of their entrance into the MC market, global players and market leaders, giving insight into proven ways and tactics to profit from customer participation, to leading scholars, showing how latest research proves the concept of the integrated customer to be more than a trend.

To not only preach customer integration but actually live up to our words and integrate our conference participants beyond questions and one-on-one networking, we had a special feature in place. Werner Haring, founder and CEO of wallero.us, had contributed to the event's multi media experience by "installing" a social media wall right next to the stage.

Copyright Profilfoto von CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Social Media Wall, Courtesy of wallero.us. Click to enlarge!

This application was a real eye-catcher and various running gags were born during the course of the event – and you still can follow the #MCSalzburg hashtag for a report of the conference.

 The day headed off with the introductory panel. After a hearty welcome by co-host Dominik Walcher, my research group's members Dr. Christoph Ihl and Thorsten Harzer outlined results from our research projects and demonstrated some of the numerical "magic" behind Mass Customization and Open Innovation and how it can be utilized to take the right decisions about mission-critical aspects that many companies do not even realize to be of great importance.

As an example: asked about the ideal number of customization options to offer in your configurator (solution space), would your answer have been: "As many as possible, since more choice equals happier customers!"? If your answer to this is "yes" then our latest resarch findings might offer some ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Following Dominik Walcher's insight into the development and outcome of the MC500, our great study of the most important MC companies from around the world, I had the chance to present on the importance of customer integration and how companies of all sizes can profit from proper employment of the concept, as well as some new MC trends of the future.

Next on the agenda was the market panel in which Franz Blach (IDEO), Franz Hölzl (Kaindl) and Wolfgang Gruel (Daimler) gave really interesting and well-received insight how Open Innovation, individualization and co-creation have changed the way they are conducting their business and the ways they found to profit from it:

  • An interesting attempt at improvement of working culture were IDEO's working ethics, as Franz Blach outlined them. They are meant to be pretty much contrary to what we are used to in most larger companies these days. Instead of perfectionism and pressure, IDEO deems a culture in which close teamwork, prototypical work (things do not have to be perfect in their first iteration, can evolve and develop), error tolerancy and more fun are the key principles. While there is certainly more to a successful innovation company, this is certainly an approach favorable by many employees.
  • Franz Hölzl demonstrated how Kaindl was able to offer a totally new way to produce wooden flooring, printed with individual patterns and colors, in great looking quality. Because of their production technology and business model, they can deliver a much more customized product at a significantly lower price.
  • Wolfgang Gruel finally brought up the question if/why it is necessary that privately owned cars are often used in a really inefficient way, standing in the driveway most of the time and usually being too large for most of the time they are used. Daimler has been working on models to counter this development by employing car sharing, car pooling and affordable renting models. Nothing revolutionary new, you will say, but this time it is being done large-scale, by an international company, and not your small start-up next door. It will be interesting to observe whether Daimler can actually change something about the status quo or if the highly valued status symbol "car" will remain untouched by the means of sheer efficiency.


Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl , collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of our speakers. Click to enlarge!

Next: the social media panel, moderated by Paul Blazek: For all those planning to integrate social media into their PR strategy as well, talks by Martina Partl and Clarissa Streichsbier of cyLEDGE were as insightful as Catharina van Delden's summary of her company innosabi's (unserAller, anybody?) work. Renate Gruber gave the finishing presentation about how her venture CupCakes made its way from a traditional food company onto the MC market:

  • Partl and Streichsbier pointed out that, while social media in regards to mass customization was nothing new anymore, the combination of social media and open innovation are a perfect match. This is certainly true in so far as open innovation per definition relies on participation and hence any media that is suited to increase awareness is potentially supportive for any OI initiative.

    Interestingly they chose Facebook as an example for a customizable information source. The important role of facebook as a customer relationship tool was stressed by all speakers in this panel. Certainly will be interesting to see if/how companies think of now ways to even better employ the platform for their needs. 

During the lunch break, there was time to check the 20+ exhibitors. Some had even set up live demonstrations of their product offers, like Pasterie, supporting us with freshly made pasta or CowCrowd, demoing their lovely wooden pendants, individualized on-location with your own image and/or custom text.

Next: The start-up panel, hosted by MC-blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang (egoo.de). Here, Sabine Beck gave an amazing presentation about how her jewlery business Amoonic manages to mix pre-configured and individually customized rings and more in a great portfolio that every manager dreams about: produced entirely on demand, without any significant need for storage space or the risk of wasting materials.

Interestingly, their configurator is not even visible if you enter their website. At first (and actually second) glance you will not notice anything hinting at the possibility to customize a ring. The configuration options do become visible, however, once you have decided upon one of the preconfigured designs. These can then be individualized using a wide variety of options. Possible combinations of gold, silver and gems of all kinds range from 150 to 2.5 million Euro. Certainly something in this for everybody.

However, from my own testing I found it hard to even find out that you can individualize the rings. You have to actually select one before a respective button appears and that could be a serious usability drawback in my opinion as many potential customers might not even recognize the potential of the store. It does, however, explain why about 40% of their sales are actually preconfigured, non-customized rings. Anyways though, with the average customer leaving between 400-500 Euro in their shop, the concept will certainly be profitable – especially since there are very low fix costs.

Next up was Stickvogel, a promissing start-up which specialized in embroiding and etching all kinds of motives into all kinds of goods. Lately they teamed up with major retailer Butlers, offering custom stitching to customers in Butlers' shops. This B2B customization service concept will certainly be exciting to follow over the (hopefully) next years.

Closing presentation of this panel was helt by Carina Schichl and Tanja Sieder, representing their business for unique custom travel guides, Nectar&Pulse, based on insider tips by what they call "soulmates" rather than generalized all-round information. Locals give their best tips for tourists which are then, upon checking, transformed into nicely layouted guides. While this is certainly an interesting idea per se, the issue I see with it is that the product might not be easy to market. As Schichl and Sieder pointed out, their target group originally were younger people. Instead, most of their customers are 30+. While their choice of age clustering is certainly debatable (and lead to one of the mentioned running gags of this conference), this raises the question: do they actually have the right product for the right market? If their average customer's age is above what they expected, they would likely be well advised to adapt to a different kind of information and layout which fits the needs of this target group better.

Next up was the retail panel. Moderator Jochen Krisch (excitingcommerce) did an outstanding job leading through an exciting lineup of big names: Former Bundesliga-athlete Sven Renz showed how his product line of completely customized ski/sports shoes has blessed his company with a yearly growth of 20-50%. However, I expect there to be an even larger potential in this market, seeing how ErtlRenz still "only" sold 2400 pairs of shoe at their peak last year.

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of the exhibition. Click to enlarge!

Claudia Kieserling, winner of this year's much-noticed Million-Dollar-Challenge by Zazzle, gave a short overview of individual shoe manufacturer selve, showing off some of the models availible to women around the world and giving some interesting insight upon questions from the audience. She especially stressed the importance of the customer's shopping experience, which should be more than just pushing a button and receiving a cardboard box.

A great final presenation in this block came from Max Kickinger. His soundbranding company is known for its work with some major companies like Porsche, Swarovski and many more. Commenting on a truly excellent video he explained how companies use clever sound branding to gain the consumers attention – often without him realizing to be guided towards the "right" shelve – and the checkout counter!

Following another networking break, the final panel of the day: The configurator panel, presented and moderated by Alexander Felfering of Graz University, had the technical side of customer integration covered.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Coffee-Break is over, back to the conference room, Alp-Style!

Andreas Falkner (SIEMENS) spoke about the challenges of complex product configuration, especially where multiple dependencies between customizable factors are to be respected (a good example why companies should reffer to an expert instead of just trying to headjump into the MC market).

Marc Herling of Lumo Graphics demonstrated how the use of 3D-configurators can be a blessing for the consumer who can imagine the to-buy product way better than it would be the case with just some images. With more advanced configurators, he says, the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) will more and more be replaced by YGWYW – You

[actually] Get What You Want.

On the other hand, developing a really well working, appealing 3D-configurator takes a lot more than the amount of work it costs to "just" shoot said product images. Hence, as with so many cases of exploiting new technological opportunities, its a balancing act and might often not be profitable for small companies.

HYVE's Volker Bilgram was up next. In his "Toolkits for Gamification" speech he explained how and why the aspect of playing – adding features that make the process of configuring/buying a product more fun than just an annoying act of shopping – can contribute to a retailer's sales figures. Again: If done correctly!

To complete this panel, Klaus Pilsl of IndiValue spoke about web based configurators and their part in the customer's shopping experience. His company is about to launch a major new "configurator as a (web) service" — something that has been tried for many years, but now finally may become true.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!My personal conclusions of this year's MC2012:

 (1) MC has great potential to significantly improve a company's sales figures and customer brand loyalty. However, to make it work successfully, more is needed than just to put up a fancy-looking configurator and then wait for clients.

Especially the dialog with the (potential) client is and will be even more important in the future, as more and more companies employ easily accessable social platforms like Facebook to communicate with their crowd. And a lot of both promissing start-ups and established companies could profit immensely from experienced coaching since, as Christoph Ihl had pointed out at the very beginning, even the right choice of customization options (not to be confused with as many options as possible!) can make or break your MC business. 

(2) Mass Customization needs to be less outcome-driven and to be looked upon from a higher, more meta-perspective to develop it further. I believe we know a lot about nice and perhaps even profitable BtoC consumer products. But what about MC services that tackle some of our true global challenges?

(3) Finally, the German MC community really is a nice crowd of great individuals, very eager to collaborate, to share ideas and experiences, and to network!

Looking back on a fantastic conference I truly want to thank everybody who made this possible, may it be as a speaker or a guest, an exhibitor or supportive staff member. Special thanks do go to my dear co-hosts Paul Blazek and of course Dominik Walcher, who did an outstanding job organizing this large event with his team at Salzburg University!

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

(Most of) our speakers! Click to enlarge!

28 06, 2012

Market Watch: Extreme Customization with CedarWorks: Beautiful, Fully Customizable Playsets

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:37+00:00 Juni 28th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Furniture - Home, MC/OI on the Web, Technologies & Enablers|

LogoWhile customized clothing or cars are a rather obvious thing to offer, the MC application I want to present today is rather unique and a really great idea, bringing MC to a new extreme!.

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!Now, if you are blessed with children of young age, you might want to give them some of the outdoor toys we have all dreamed of during our childhood: A large wooden castle, equpped with some swing set, a slide and a sandbox. And while you can certainly buy one of these in the local hardware store of your choice, if you want to go for something that fits your well-designed garden a bit better, CedarWorks might have just the right offer for you.

The Rockport, ME, based company offers essentially everything you need to create the playset of your (or your little one's) dreams. Your fantasy is pretty much only limited by the laws of physics and the size of your real estate (and not even that, read on). A really easy to use configurator enables you to plan the wooden construction – may it be just a small swing set or a fully grown castle – by dragging and dropping parts like towers, bridges, slides, swings and all sorts of accessory

All images copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!

A demo play set, configurator view, 3D view and real life result. Click to enlarge!

 The configurator assists intuitively by highlighting such points that a selected element can be attached to, helping to create an appealing playground within minutes, even without any knowledge of online configuration (or carpentry). 

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!For clients unsure of how a great design could look, CedarWorks also offers a number of (partially really beautiful) preconfigured sets which can be ordered as-is or customized to one's needs, adding, removing or reordering parts of choice. To top it off, CedarWorks experts are just a phonecall away to help you decide on both a nice and realistic design for your individual conditions like availible space, number and age of kids, pets and so on. 

But what if you do not have a large garden of yours to house a play set? Well, maybe you have the lacking outdoor space availible indoors, in which case you can choose one of the indoor play sets that CedarWorks alongside their outdoor models. These, like their larger pendents, are customizable as well. 

If this concept sounds interesting for you, CedarWorks will hold a tour of their facilities in Rockport, ME, for interested, preregistered professionals. The tour, followed by a lunch, will take place on Friday, 17th of August 2012. More details and registration availible here.

More information about CedarWorks, their products, the configuration process as well as catalogues and pricing can be found on the companie's website.

17 06, 2012

Book Review: Produktprogrammplanung und -Steuerung im Automobilbau: Practical Application of Mass Customization in the Car Industry

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:07+00:00 Juni 17th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial, Technologies & Enablers|

Mass Customization is often reduced to the technical frontend, the configurator, and the underlying economic concept. However, the (consequent) implementation of MC requires a lot of organizational adaption within the production process. This is especially true where a wide variety of product variants can be ordered by the customer and each individual constellation of chosen options has to be assigned a unique product identifier which precisely describes the customized product.

In his recently pubished book about production program planning, Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn (Volkswagen, Braunschweig University) takes a detailed look at the challenges car producers are confronted with when offering mass customized products, and demonstrates a scientific solution.
Since his book is only availible in German language, this book review will be in German, too!  3446413707

PPSimAutomobilbauPPS im Automobilbau
Produktionsprogrammplanung und -steuerung von Fahrzeugen und Aggregaten

Written by: Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn

Published by: Hanser Fachbuch
ISBN: 978-3-446-41370-2


Die Produktprogrammplanung und -Steuerung (PPS) ist eine der wichtigsten Stufen des Wertschöpfungsprozesses. Im Zeitalter industrieller Massenfertigung auf globalisierter Märkte ist die Wahl geeigneter Parameter und Steuergrößen für eine reibungslose und kostenoptimierte Durchführung aller erforderlichen Produktionsschritte entscheidender Faktor. Die Aufnahme von kundenindividuell gefertigten Massenprodukten im Sinne der Mass Customization in das eigene Produktportfolio kann die Komplexität der Planung bedeutend erhöhen. Neben standardisierten Produkten müssen zusätzlich individuell konfigurierte Kompositionen verfügbarer Optionen erfasst, eindeutig bezeichnet und verfolgt werden. In direkter Abhängigkeit von den kundenseits gewählten Produktmerkmalen muss –flexibel und zeitnah – eine möglichst optimale Planung des Produktionsprogramms erfolgen, deren Komplexität über diejenige der normalen industriellen PPS hinausgeht. 

Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn, Manager der Volkswagen AG und Lehrbeauftragter an der TU Braunschweig, beschreibt in seinem neuesten Buch diesen kritischen Prozess der PPS am Beispiel der Automobilindustrie. Nach einer allgemeinen Einführung in die Thematik und einer Übersicht über die gängigen Herausforderungen der Praxis beschreibt er den hohen Grad der Differenzierung, die mit immer umfangreicheren Indivisualisierungsoptionen einhergeht. Die konsequente Anwendung des Mass Customization Konzepts führt im hochgradig arbeitsteiligen Automobilbau zu einer vervielfachung variabler Faktoren (Individualisierungsoptionen), die bei der PPS berücksichtigung finden müssen.

Schlüsselelement ist dabei eine eindeutige Bezeichnung eines jeden individuell bestellten Fahrzeugs, aus der alle relevanten Produktmerkmale eindeutig hervorgehen. Die individuelle Bezeichnung wird zum einmaligen Fingerabdruck des Produkts und unterstützt eine präzise Planung aller Produktionsprozesse, von der just-in-time Materialbereitstellung bis zur pünktlichen Auslieferung an den Kunden.

Dr. Herlyn stellt dabei das Modell einer Produktbeschreibung vor, die den Anforderungen an eine ideale Mengenalgebra gerecht wird. Bezeichnet wird das individuell georderte Produkt dabei mittels einer zusammengesetzten Nummer, deren Elemente die jeweils gewählten Produktmerkmale eindeutig beschreiben. Die Zusammensetzung der Produktnummer erfolgt dabei unter Beachtung bestimmter Regeln, die beispielsweise die Kombinierbarkeit verschiedener Merkmale – etwas der Farbe der Lackierung -  bestimmen. So entsteht eine flexible, individuelle und eindeutige Bezeichnung, die die Planung und Steuerung der auf die Bestellung folgenden Prozesse erheblich vereinfacht.

Die praktische Anwendung dieses Konzepts in Produktionsprogrammplanung und -Steuerung wird in den folgenden Kapiteln ausführlich und praxisnah demonstriert. Dabei wird sowohl auf die konkrete Umsetzung als auch die zugrundeliegenden mathematischen Modelle eingegangen. Trotz des teilweise hohen Komplexitätsgrads gelingt es Herlyn, die für den Praktiker relevanten Zusammenhänge verständlich und umfassend zu erklären. Anhand einer Vielzahl von Schaubildern und  Diagrammen werden die Korrelationen zwischen zunehmenden Kundenanforderungen an die Individualisierbarkeit ihres Fahrzeugs einerseits und den daraus entstehenden Problemen für die produzierende Industrie (und deren vor- und nachgelagerten Handel) andererseits erläutert.

Von der Produktionsplanung für Fahrzeuge und Aggregate über die Erstellung von Vertriebsprogrammplänen und Absatzprognosen, die flexible Produktionssteuerung im Normal- und Ausnahmefall bis zur Auftrags- und Produktionsverfolgung werden alle wesentlichen Aspekte des Wertschöpfungsprozesses anschaulich verdeutlicht. Dabei wird auch auf Spezialfälle wie besondere Fahrzeugtypen und unterschiedliches Kaufverhalten eingegangen.

Das Buch stellt sehr schön die spezifischen Probleme der Variantenvielfalt für die industrielle Fertigungsoptimierung am Beispiel der Automobilindustrie auch für Leser ohne detaillierte Kenntnis der PPS verständlich dar und zeigt Möglichkeiten auf, diese besser beherrschbar zu machen

30 05, 2012

Conference Review: European Open Innovation Summit in Brussels, May 2012

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:32+00:00 Mai 30th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Events, Open/User Innovation, Personalization|

Courtesy World Research Group, www.worldrg.com, all rights reserved. I spoke about our "market for open innovation" study at the European Open Innovation Summit in Brussels last week.This was a new conference for me, but it was a good platform for exchange and discussion, and many of the usual suspects from the field were there.

Here are a few observations from the presentations at this event I liked most.


PSION: Open Source Mobility


Courtesy of Psion, www.psion.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Todd Boone, Dirctor, Open Innovation. PSION
 is a Toronto based company producing special-purpose handheld computers (inventory taking, logistics, etc.). After feeling stronger and stronger competition, they changed their business model from an internal closed R&D process to a modular open innovation approach.

And they are utilizing a toolkit for user innovation as their open innovation tool. Indeed, PSION is one of the very few companies that really out this method of OI into practice.

The present toolkit allows anyone to build new hardware products by combining pre-existing modules into new application. Anyone in the community can get the CAD files of all products and components. It also allows external people to integrate PSION's hardware components with external components.

The outcome for PSIONAllowing to create new business opportunities very flexibly, especially in fields where the company had no previous experience. Take the medical device industry. Here, their open plattform allowed a fast cooperation with medical company that brought industry knowledge and customer needs, and could use the toolkit to easily develop a new device which now is co-marketed. Psion alone never could have entered this market easily.


  • Get new markets and new revenue models
  • Create new products with higher margins, as these are out of the established competition
  • Get differentiated, distributed products with faster time to market


  • Convince all employees that open is not evil
  • Get board to accept that they do not know where all target markets are; and what these markets want (tough insight to get for board / Psion's stratgey people),
  • Competing philosphies: "We want to be innovative" (but in a domain we know) is offset by "We've never done that before …" (we don't know how to handle it).
  • Opening the business culture: Establish open attitude to listen and respond


LEGO: Making Open Innovation a Strategy at Lego


Courtesy of LEGO, www.lego.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Erik Hansen, Senior Director, Technology Innovation. LEGO since long is known as one of the companies that really take user innovation and lead user ideas seriously. With their new OI initiative, they want to expand this perspective from user innovation to technical and process innovation, too.

4 Value pools shall be tapped into by formal OI initiative

  • Internal talent
  • Entrepreneurs (lead users)
  • Kids and AFoLs (creative customers)
  • Companies and other profess. institutions (beyond a few established partnerships like with MII Media Lab)

4 pilot products

  • Technical OI in the production area -> can we solve "unsolvable" problems in our manufactuing process by extenral input? (e.g. electricity, statische AUFLADUNG)
  • improving the core LEGO experience through crowdsourcing (= building box set for the first time and then deconstructing it and building something again -> can we here create service innovation by crowdsourcing?
  • A HR platform for internal OI
  • Open Innovation platform (i.e. a Lego Factory 2.0 ?? -> build an established dialogue for customers to share their ideas and experiences)


NOKIA: Idea Crowdsourcing


Courtesy of Nokia, www.nokia.com, all rights reserved. Presentation helt by Pia Erkinheimo, Head of Crowdsourcing,.NOKIA's ideaproject.com, an online idea contest originating from this hypethesis: Who provides more value? A bored professional or an enthusiastic amateur?

Structured around different contest, e.g. ideas for a mobile micro-task platform, which git 900+ ideas.

In total Nokia got:

  • 11,000 ideas
  • 20,000 community members
  • 21,000 "likings" of the community members
  • 1,660,000 page visits of 10-60 min. per single visit


Under Armour: Being Open as Part of the Business Model: Trust for Open Innovation


Courtesy of Under Armour, www.underarmour.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Jason Berns , Director of Innovation. Under Armour gave a very good presentation on the need of the US sports brand to build trust and be a good partner in open innovation. Jason shared great insight how the spirit of "sportsmenship" at UA is driving their open inovation initiative with smaller companies and individuals.

While it was inisghtful for me at this conference that managers in OI today are not (just) talking any longer about the "why" and "how" of open innovation, but much more about open innovation readiness, internal structurs, policies, capabilities etc., it was Jason's presentation that really reminded us the in the end the core success factor of OI will be to create a win-win partnership.

14 05, 2012

Open Service Innovation: BOSCH Launches OI Community Dedicated to Auto Mechanic Services

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:11+00:00 Mai 14th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation, Service Customization|

Photo courtesy of Bosch, all rights reservedBosch, one of the world's leading suppliers for (professional and personal) electronics and tools, has taken another interesting step in opening their innovation process

Bosch is not a new player in this field, already providing a general idea plattform where you can both submit solutions to specific problems and get the chance to send in and present your very own revolutionary idea for the next big product (enhancement). 

Now Bosch has taken things one step further. Seeing how automotive componentes and electronics are a major branch of their business they decided to go where problem-knowledge and improvement-ideas are most likely to be found: with the professional employer of Bosch's tool, the mechanic. 

In light of this realization, Bosch has recently launched the Bosch Open Innovation Plattform, specifically dedicated to professional garages and their employees. 

The concept of this community (which is so far in German language only) is twofold: The core-piece is a forum where professionals can discuss problems they may encounter during their work with Bosch's tools as well as exchange tips and tricks with colleagues from all over the nation (and the world, provided they understand German). Dedicated Bosch staff is also present on these forums so a direct interaction with company representatives is possible.

Next to this the plattform features an "Idea" section in which users (upon free registration) can submit their ideas about product enhancements and new solutions that they deem helpful/ necessary to better employ the company's products in "real life". Browsing through already submitted ideas is possible without registration. And of course you can submit ideas on how to improve the plattform itself (there even is an own section for this topic). 

A complementary "News" section is used by the company to transmit additional information deemed valuable for their target group. 

So far Bosch's concept seems to be rather successful with 400+ registered users and already 72 submitted ideas as of today, ranging from improved knowledge databases to concrete improvements of software provided by Bosch. It will be very interesting to observe where this communty of experts will go and which concrete outcomes it will produce. In any case a very good example of open innovation employment beyond "just" putting another idea website out there and wait. 

15 03, 2012

Featured Research: Is your company ready to benefit from an open innovation processes?

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:42+00:00 März 15th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Today I want to continue our little series on new papers dealing with one (or many) aspects of mass customization, open innovation and innovation management. In an act of shameless self promotion, we picked this short management article on some of the key requirements that can decide whether or not a company is ready to benefit open innovation.

EycoverIncreasing innovative capacity: is your company ready to benefit from open innovation processes?

By Philipp Wagner and Frank Piller (RWTH Aachen)

Published in: Ernst & Young Performance Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2
Download full article here at Ernst & Young (very nice layout 🙂

A company’s ability to innovate is key to its success. The strategic and systematic opening up of internal innovation processes to include external knowledge – in other words, open innovation – can result in significant competitive advantages.

Core dimensionsThere is now a whole range of open innovation methods that complement traditional innovation management methods. While there is already considerable evidence of the potential that open innovation offers, many companies still have a comparatively closed innovation process, or are still in the process of transitioning to a more open approach.

In order to exploit the potential of open innovation, the corresponding methods must be tightly integrated into the Innovation management toolbox. Moreover, open innovation calls for a shift in strategic orientation, the organization and companies’ culture. These requirements are not dissimilar to those of traditional innovation management. Open innovation also needs to be planned, managed, monitored and formalized.

In this paper, we have presented a tool that enables companies to assess their readiness for open innovation as a basis for defining targeted internal measures aimed at promoting the benefits of open innovation.

How open the innovation process is depends less on the specific industry involved than on the decision of the management of the company in question. Companies that have been successful in implementing open innovation have reported that creating an open innovation culture is a powerful motivating factor, and that internal cultural barriers and a lack of motivation are the greatest obstacles

In our experience, dealing with external knowledge and external players poses another major challenges for many companies. In practice, the application of open innovation tools does not always lead to the desired results, and the potential theoretically possible is not fully exploited. A company’s readiness to assimilate external information is a key challenge in this regard.

In this paper, my fellow colleague at RWTH Aachen, Philipp Wagner and myself present an audit aimed at helping companies assess their readiness for open innovation and, where necessary, optimize structures and processes.


The articles comments on the factors that determine a company’s actual situation with regard to specific criteria and, by comparing this to a target situation, endeavors to determine the company’s readiness to utilize open innovation successfully and derive suggestions for action from these findings.

==> Download the full article here as a PDF

And a disclaimer: In the present state, our open innovation audit still is a really customized and lengthy consulting project that we are happy to offer to interested companies. But it IT IS NOT A QUICK SCALE that you just can fillout online and then get your readiness score.  We are working on this, too, but at the present stage, we were not satisfied with the results of such a self assessment.

However, such a self assessment is available in form of the Open Innovation Assessment by NineSigma. Have a look there. This is a nice illustration and complementation to our paper.

4 02, 2012

New Book: Customer-Driven Supply Chains: From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation Networks

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:16+00:00 Februar 4th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial, Customization Trends, General, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

As a result of our EU-funded research project REMPLANT, we are proud to announce a new book that Prof. Frank Piller partly co-authored:

Book cover springerCustomer-Driven Supply Chains From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation

by Lyons, A.C., Coronado Mondragon, A. E., Piller, F. and Poler, R

Find Customer-Driven Supply Chains at Amazon.com

More book info and download of individual chapters at Springer.com

The Book reviews the concept of lean thinking and its relationship to other key initiatives associated with supply chain management. Detailed industrial case studies based on the authors’ experience illustrate the principles behind lean supply chains. Moreover, a series of diagrams are used to illustrate critical concepts and supply chain architectures. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of transferring lean principles from the organisational level to the supply chain level. The theory and principles behind lean supply chains are reviewed. Other concepts related to lean supply chains discussed in the book include: mass customisation, agility, information sharing and the bullwhip effect. A methodology used to measure the performance of supply chains is introduced; this methodology comprises the tools of decision timeline, data-flow diagramming, supply chain value stream mapping and a performance measurement scorecard.

Readers will gain a clear picture of the competitive implications of lean supply chains. Customer-Driven Supply Chains: From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation Networks will be a valuable resource of material to students studying supply chain/operations management as well as researchers in this field. Industry practitioners will learn how to develop sound supply chain strategies that can have a positive impact in their organisation.

Lead author and driver behind the book has been Andrew Lyons from the University of Liverpool, a great research partner in the REMPLANET project. He has been a Lecturer in Operations Management at the University of Liverpool Management School since 2002. His research interests include: operations strategy, supply chain design and performance measurement, supply chain information structures, mass customisation and build-to-order strategies.