10 10, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights: Rapid Innovation and Manufacturing in an International Production Enviroment

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:45+00:00 Oktober 10th, 2011|Co-creation, Customization Trends, Events, Guest Articles, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|


MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

In a world of global markets and constant technical innovation one has to live up to the challenge of not only surviving on the individual markets but to out-innovate any competition at the highest pace possible. It goes without saying that for producing companies, production speed is a key competency. In sessions 6.3 & 7.3 we will take a look at expert techniques to accomplish this tough yet vital mission. 

Sessions 6.3 & 7.3 (Nov 19): Rapid Innovation and Manufacturing in an International Production Enviroment

Rapid Response Manufacturing in RIO South Texas Region

Opening Session 6.3, Miguel Gonzalez, Jianzhi Li and Douglas Timmer (University of Texas-Pan American) will speak about their experiences with rapid response manufacturing techniques in their home region of South Texas.

Experiences in Disburse Engineering Design Education Targeted on Rapid Innovation & Manufacturing

In this part Jianzhi Li, John Lloyd, Miguel Gonzalez, Douglas Timmer (University of Texas-Pan American) will share some of their experiences on the topic of disburse engineering design education with a special focus on its application in rapid innovation and manufacturing.

Information Technology Suitability Index for Mass Customization

In their presentation, Douglas Timmer and Miguel Gonzalez ( University of Texas-Pan American) will discuss the suitability of information technology in regards of mass customization.

Case Studies of Rapid Response Manufacturing in an International Production System

As a response to intensified competition, changing customer needs and greatly shortened product life cycles, ALPS as a global parts supplier to major automakers has been implementing rapid response manufacturing and mass customization technologies in order to capture and satisfy customer requirements in a timely and efficient manner.

In their presentation, Edi Sanjoto (ALPS Automotive) and Miguel Gonzalez (University of Texas-Pan American) will introduce best practices and strategies which allowed ALPS to connect with customers effectively and to quickly identify product variations. Furthermore they will compare different configurations of manufacturing lines with mass customization in mind, based on which they will give their recommendations for rapid response manufacturing strategies.

Reconfigurable Strategies to Hammer Open Innovation Concepts into the Mass Customized Automobile Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry in general and the automotive industry in particular is distinguished by rapid globalization, high mass customization, regionalization, value chain restructuring and reduced product as well as innovation life cycles. This in turn has compelled the automotive manufacturers to open up their innovation process to better address the customer needs readily by exploiting efficient outsourcing strategies.

Sarfraz Minhas, Ulrich Berger and Christiane Hipp (Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus) will discuss the need for reconfigurable approaches in planning as well as in control to address mass- customization-induced complexities under the umbrella of open innovation. A reconfigurable production control will be proposed in the body-in-white production, encompassing the configuration of specific setups to enable co-development in a distributed production environment, exploiting ICT technologies to produce mass customized products.

Innovations in Mechatronic Products and Mass Customization

Mass Customization has been recognized as a successful strategy in the design and development of products tailored to customer needs. Global competition demands new products with added functionalities, as in the case of mechatronic products.  These products are becoming more and more important as a product type and new inventions have resulted in drastic changes in design and development of mechatronic products, both standalone and enhancing conventional mechanical systems.

In this part, Tufail Habib, Kaj Jörgensen and Kjeld Nielsen (Aalborg University) will present the particular structure and properties of mechatronic products compared to conventional mechanical systems.Following that they will give an overview of typical changes regarding functionalities from mechanical products towards mechatronic products.

Utilising Mass Customisation Methods for Modular ManufacturingSystem Design

In order to operate under and take advantage of the specific dynamics of today's markets, manufacturing processes have to be robust to product changes – a contradiction to traditional manufacturing systems developed as dedicated engineer-to-order solutions, tailored to production of a specific product or a limited product assortment. In response, modular manufacturing concepts are evolving, designed with the needed responsiveness in mind, being the manufacturing paradigm of Mass Customisation.

Research focus has been on the basic principles and enabling technologies, while modular architectures and system design have received less attention. A potential to fill these gaps by applying selected design theories and methods of MC has been identified. Based on a communality analysis between these theories/methods and the modular manufacturing approach, Steffen Joergensen, Alexia Jacobsen, Kjeld Nielsen, Ole Madsen and Kaj Jörgensen (Aalborg University) will discuss and evaluate the potentials and show possible obstacles of application.

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

18 01, 2010

Will Generative Design Enable Mass Customization?

By | 2018-06-14T11:08:05+00:00 Januar 18th, 2010|Co-Design Process, Design, Guest Articles, Technologies & Enablers|

Generative Design is a term addressing a next generation CAD for architecture, product design & customer co-design. The basic idea is to develop design technologies that are helping to shape the way things are conceived, designed and made in a connected environment — and in a form that builds strongly on an interactive and intuitive design process by an (untrained) user, and not an engineering-like development of an object.  I have written about this before, but in a recent posting to his blog, Sivam Krish did summarize the contribution of Generative Design for MC quite well. Since many years, Sivam is one of the forerunners in this area.

Will Generative Design enable mass customization?

[ Repost from the blog Generative Design ]

by Sivam Krish

Picture by Federico Weber, Milan Mass customization is about empowering consumers. Its about allowing consumers to create what they like. Currently consumers are tricked into this.

Many companies now offer their online customers  – DIY design tools – which are in fact interactive front ends of catalogs . These interactive catalogs  enable millions of permutations that are not possible to store but can be manufactured, often  at additional cost. This is likely to change as competition extends the envelope of customization through the use of rapid manufacturing technologies.  Perhaps generative design technologies may be of help here.

Generative Design is about generating useful or viable design possibilities. These possibilities are now generated by random numbers – these very same numbers can also be generated by customers. The generative model could  be set to operate within manufacutrable and cost limits. By replacing the random component of generative design with customer preferences, the form shape texture and color of  hi-complexity consumer products can be scroll bared -by non designers . By bounding the parametric generative model with cost, engineering and other constraints – companies can ensure the feasibility of the product and ensure its manufacturability. More importantly, they can crowd source designs and create a great diversity of products – all of which need not be manufactured but will be available online in rendered realistic from. They will also benefit from the  marketing advantages of co-creation and customization.

Hence, generative design may in fact hold he key for unlocking the next generation of manufacturing  possibilities empowering non designers to create truly customized products.

This possibility from a design tool point of  view was fist demonstrated in Singapore in a workshop by Genometri in April 2007. Non designers designed a series of blue tooth devices using a generative model by pulling scroll bars.  Further experiments in consumer design were done by Matt Sinclair Nov last year, with very encouraging results.

Here is an interesting early stage example by Federico Weber at the Politechnic Milan that illustrates the principle very well: http://federicoweber.com/xylem/2009/11/ (The picture illustrating this posting has also been taken from Federico Weber).

The modeling and constraint management aspect of generative design may form the design rock bed of mass customization. It will allow companies to selectively open areas of design for consumer play ensuring that what is designed can be realized within cost, manufacturing and engineering limits.

For more information on this topic, browse through the very interesting blog of Sivam, generativedesign.wordpress.com

15 07, 2008

The CEC Co-Design Contest: Open Innovation in the Footwear Industry

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:18+00:00 Juli 15th, 2008|Co-Design Process, Footwear, Guest Articles, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

A year ago, I reported about the CEC User Co-Design Contest. Now, the results are in and the experiment is over. In the following guest article, Angelika Bullinger and Erik Hansen report about the contest. They are working at TUM Business School and were the project leaders of this contest. Here is their report:

During the last three to four years, we have seen a dramatic surge in interest in the principle of “open innovation”. “Open innovation” means the involvement of customers and other partners in the innovation process. By their creative input, many companies are significantly increasing their ability to source powerful products.

But how to meet with the creative minds outside your company?

For European shoe manufactures, an answer to this question is provided by the “CEC Co-Design Community (CE3C)”, a web-based platform that enables the integration of customers in the innovation process. The platform provides combinable modules for the interaction of the company with its customers and partners. For example, in the “mindstyle module”, customers get an analysis of their preferred style by intuitively selecting pictures out of number of photographs. The manufacturer gets information which trends are currently “hot”.

In another module, “product configuration” those shoes in the collection which can be customized are shown. By the data on individualized shoes, manufacturers are informed about customers’ preferences. Especially in combination, the modules of CE3C provide shoe manufacturers with rich information on their current consumers’ preferences. 

But preferences of current customers are not enough to your company? You want really innovative designs and get to know their creators? In this case, the “idea contest” is your solution. An idea contest is a forum in which passionate contributors from all over the world can exercise their creativity on account of a topic defined by the organisator. Prizes – and the recognition by the company – generate interest and drive participation. Typically, one company organizes an idea contest and submitted ideas are judged by a panel of employees.

The idea contest module of CE3C has already been very successfully tested – the “CEC Shoe Design Contest” was run between October and December 2007 on the platform. To involve customers more closely, a voting functionality allowed users to express their opinion on the submitted shoe designs. User votings were integrated the final decision-making on the winning designs.

The results of the CEC Shoe Design Contest have been very satisfying to the involved shoe manufacturers: In total, 63 highly innovative designs have been submitted. The active community of interested users (and submitters) has about 400 members who stem from nearly 50 countries around the globe. Both the unusual size of the community and the number of high-quality submissions indicate the power of the idea contest module of CE3C. The winning designs are currently manufactured and companies are getting in touch with the creative minds behind the designs.

You also want an idea contest for your company?
You would like to meet with the still unknown designers? The CEC CoDesign Community (CE3C) stands ready for adaptation to your company’s particularities – and the established community only waits for the next idea contest on account of a thrilling topic. Let’s thus integrate and innovate!

For more information, contact Angelika Bullinger or Erik Hansen.

Here are some more results of the first contest in form of pictures:





13 07, 2008

Guest Article: Mass customization of musical instruments (in German language)

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:22+00:00 Juli 13th, 2008|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Deutsch (in German), Guest Articles|

It has been a long time that I posted to this blog more than an event announcement – life as a German university professor keeps you really busy during the semester. But to keep up postings running, I got help from some members of our mass customization community.

In a first guest article, Jan Palkoska comments on a field not covered n the previous discussion of mass customization: the customization of musical instruments. Jan wrote his master's thesis on this topic, focusing on the customization process of drums. As he finds, customization is the predominant pattern in this industry, but the execution of mass customization principles is often just at the beginning. Often, craft customization dominates. Reading his thesis, I was reminded at the bicycle industry, where also many mid- and high-end bikes are being customized in form of craft customization in retail.

His article is in German language, but you may let Google translate the text, or just jump to the end of the text where you will find a number of examples for offerings of custom drums in English.

For more information, contact Jan Palkoska at janpalkoska@gmx.de

Vermarktung individualisierter Musikinstrumente – Ein Vergleich verschiedener Angebote in der Schlagzeugindustrie. Von Jan Palkoska.

Musikinstrumente erscheinen auf den ersten Blick relativ ungeeignet für Individualisierungsbemühungen: So kommen Umsetzungen individueller Vorstellungen bei Instrumenten einer klassischen Orchesterbesetzung schon von daher kaum vor, da sich in den meisten Fällen – etwa Streich- oder Blasinstrumenten – eine traditionelle Bauform zugunsten eines optimalen Klangerlebnisses bewährt und allgemein durchgesetzt hat. Durchaus denkbar sind persönliche Anpassungen oder Einstellungen in Einzelfällen; diese betreffen aber nicht die grundsätzliche Konstruktion, und auch ästhetische Veränderungen, obwohl dies durchaus denkbar wäre, sind insgesamt unüblich – abgesehen von wirtschaftlich nicht nennenswerten Zuwendungen, die dem Einzelkünstler den Acrylglasflügel nicht entbehren lassen.

Außerhalb des klassischen Bereichs hält die instrumentelle Welt aber durchaus zahlreiche Vertreter vor, welche zur Umsetzung persönlicher Wünsche geradezu einladen, vor allem nämlich diejenigen, welche der Konfiguration bedürfen und je nach Bauweise einen höchst individuellen Klang und extravagante Erscheinungsbilder zu lassen: zum Beispiel Schlagzeuge.

Drummers of today are spoiled by the plethora of custom made drums (nearly equaling the number of production drums).

Wie dieses Zitat von Falzerano (1994) aus dem Jahre 1994 zeigt, haben die Hersteller von Schlagzeugen recht früh die Vorteile kundenindividueller Produkte erkannt und sie entsprechend vermarktet.

Auf der NAMM Show 2008, der Messe für Musikinstrumente in den USA, waren von einundvierzig Schlagzeug-Ausstellern lediglich siebzehn als reine Serienfertiger zu bewerten; während die Präsenz existierender Serienhersteller auf der Messe nahezu komplett war, ist davon auszugehen, dass die vertretenen Customizer im Vergleich zu weiteren Customizern die deutlich kleinere Gruppe war: bereits im Internet sind weitere achtzig bis neunzig Unternehmen vertreten.

Zwar sind die meisten dieser Firmen kleine Handwerksbetriebe, doch auch sie vermarkten ihre Produkte global und genießen unter Musikern ein hohes Ansehen. Trotz kleinerer Firmenstrukturen bedienen sich diese Hersteller zunehmend typischer Mass Customization Tools, allen voran Konfiguratoren. Dadurch wird auch die Einteilung in kleine Handwerksbetriebe oder größere Mass Customizer mehr und mehr obsolet, wobei selbst die Mitarbeiterzahl und die Ausbringungsmenge nicht unbedingt aussagekräftig sind.

Tatsache ist, dass Customizing in der Schlagzeugindustrie zum Schlüsselbegriff geworden ist. Der von vielen Firmen erhoffte Differenzierungsvorteil durch kundenindividuelle Produkte ist dementsprechend vor allem hinsichtlich der Vermarktung fraglich, da die große Mehrheit aller Anbieter kundenindividuelle Produkte im Leistungsprogramm führt, ständig neue, wenn auch kleine, Customizing-Betriebe entstehen und nicht zuletzt auch der Begriff Customizing inflationär und nicht immer im zutreffenden Sinne zu Vermarktungszwecken verwendet wird.

Eine Marke soll mit den sich verändernden Ansprüchen des Nutzers wachsen können, weshalb eine Anpassungsmöglichkeit des Instruments unbedingt erfordert. Um, trotz der weiten Verbreitung dieser Mechanismen, durch Customizing dennoch ihre Marken abgrenzen zu können und nicht gerade durch vermeintliche Individualität zum gesichtslosen Produkt zu werden, platzieren sich Firmen in der Schlagzeugbranche heute durch den Grad der Individualisierung. Dieser ergibt sich aus den jeweiligen Kompetenzen und Möglichkeiten, so dass die Konstituierung einer Markenidentität zunehmend durch die Vermarktung intangibler Leistungshorizonte angestrebt wird.

Während also beispielsweise das kalifornische Unternehmen Orange County Drum & Percussion die außergewöhnlichsten Designwünsche der Kunden zu ermöglichen versucht, bietet der japanische Hersteller Pearl die Umsetzung kundenindividueller Klangcharakteristika durch unterschiedliche Trommelkesselkompositionen an. Andere Firmen wiederum spezialisieren sich durch die Verwendung unkonventioneller Grundmaterialien  – wie es bei RCI Starlite der Fall ist (Acryl), nach stilistischen Orientierungen – etwa bei San Francisco Drum Co. (Vintage Fokus), oder gar durch „special effects“ – von tmd customs (illuminierte Instrumente).

Auch die Art des Kundenservices unterscheidet sich teilweise massiv. Während bei einigen Herstellern Produktkonfiguratoren Verwendung finden, ermöglicht Phattie Drums dem Kunden den persönlichen Kontakt zu den einzelnen Handwerken. So können sogar hochspezielle, oft nur schwer verbalisierbare Wünsche gemeinsam umgesetzt werden. Entsprechend siedeln sich solche Produkte preislich im High End Bereich an und stellen somit eigentlich keine realistische Konkurrenz zu Herstellern von Serienprodukten dar.

Eine innovative Option bietet das traditionsreiche deutsche Unternehmen Sonor, welches ein Mass Customization Konzept geschaffen hat, bei dem der Kunde sowohl die Vorteile der Serienproduktion, als auch gleichzeitig Optionen des Customizings nutzen kann. Vorkonfigurierten Serienprodukte können durch Möglichkeiten des Customizing Konzepts SQ² individuell ergänzt werden und tragen so dem „share of wallet“-Gedanken Rechnung. Dabei sind auch vollständig individuell zusammengestellte Drum-kits innerhalb gegebener Möglichkeiten denkbar, wobei ein positiver Kosteneffekt vor allem durch die Synergie von Serien- und individuellen Produkten entsteht.

A selection of mass customization offerings in the drum industry

dw drums (www.dwdrums.com):  At DW, we're famous for building custom kits. Exotic woods from around the globe, sonically diverse shell configurations, hot-rodded Graphics lacquer finishes, four distinct drum hardware color choices and so much more. It's all about expressing your own personal style behind the kit and on it. (Customizing since 1990)

Orange County Drum & Percussion (www.ocdrum.com):  One of the things that makes OCDP different from other companies is the options and the finishes.

[…]This does nothing for the sound of the drum, but it gives the drum a more custom look which some people prefer. (1991)

Pearl (www.pearldrums.com): Masterworks is about choices for the discriminating drummer. Choices like North American Maple, Scandinavian Birch and African Mahogany. Three highly prized woods for shell composition, not just the same shell everyone else custom paints. […] With Masterworks, your kit sounds like your kit. (2003).

Phattie Drums (www.phattiedrums.com): Beyond Custom […] Now you can work with a member of our staff to design your own Sounds Like Art snare. Our wood experts will help pick a wood that meets your sonic requirements while our artists turn your ideas into 3D designs carved into the shell. You also have the option of custom hardware, working with our artists to create a lug that compliments your shell design while maintaining functionality. (2001).

Pork Pie Drums www.porkpiedrums.com: Whether recorded or live, the difference in your sound will be a custom Pork Pie™ Snare. Hearing is believing! Our Snare Drums are available in an almost limitless choice of Custom Lacquers, Stains and Wraps. (1987)

RCI Starlite www.rcidrums.com: All of our RCI acrylic shells are made from a specialty formulated hardened performance polymer made in the USA exclusively for RCI. These are true All American manufactured products made in America by Americans. […] It’s impossible to list all the infinite patterns and color combinations that we create due to the fact we are a total custom shop. Whether you are a top manufacturer in the industry, a boutique drum manufacturer or an individual looking to create your dream set RCI deals directly with a personalized service.

San Francisco Drum Co. www.sfdrumco.com: At San Francisco Drum Co, we believe in combining the classic design approach from yesteryear with today's modern materials, construction methods, and components. (2004)

SHINE Custom Drums & Percussion www.shinedrums.com: What makes a custom drum company successful in the very crowded "custom drums business" these days? We believe the answer to this question is quite simple…offer a product that is reliable, better built than your competitors and give artists and customers the kind of treatment you would give to your family or close friends. It seems like a simple concept yet it is why Shine Drums is the fastest growing and most sought after custom drum manufacturer in the world today. (2004)

SJC custom drums www.sjcdrums.com: Design your dream. (2000)

SONOR (www.sonor.com): SQ2 is more than a new drum series. It is an entirely new concept both of making drums and selecting drums. With an almost unlimited variety of shell – size – finish combinations SQ2 is the most individual drum we have ever made and the most unique one you have ever dreamed of playing. It will let you speak with your personal musical voice. It is your signature in sound. (1993)

tmdcustoms www.tmdcustomdrums.com: Ceelite is a new technology that allows flat, flexible light to be formed around the shell of any drum and is available through TMD Customs. This will bring a new dimension to what was thought to be a stale market. With every company offering custom designs, TMD Customs brings you the new wave in drum finishing that you will not be able to find anywhere else. Ceelite allows you to illuminate your entire drumkit with the touch of a button or by simply hitting the drum by using the optional trigger mount creating the first ever lit drum show. (2005)

13 07, 2008

Conference Report: The International Conference on Mass Customization and Personalization in Central Europe (MCP-CE 2008)

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:24+00:00 Juli 13th, 2008|Events, Guest Articles|

Guest article written by Robert Freund, Chairman of the Scientific Committee

The main goal of the MCP-CE conference series is to bring Mass Customization and Open Innovation closer to companies and scientists in Central Europe. The previous two conferences were held in Rzeszow (Poland) successfully organized by the University of Information Technology and Management (UITM), giving the fundaments and research directions in this part of Europe.

Host of the MCP-CE 2008 (June, 3-6, 2008, Palic – Novi Sad – Serbia) was the University of Novi Sad (Serbia), Faculty of Technical Sciences, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. The conference was held in Palic, the most beautiful part of the municipal region of Subotica. The conference can be considered a good success with contributions by more of 50 participants coming from 12 countries.

On Tuesday evening the conference started with an informal meeting at Villa Lago. On Wednesday, we had a plenary session and in the afternoon two parallel sessions with 26 papers and 22 presentations (Program). The Dinner at a wine castle offered the perfect environment for discussions and networking. Thursday morning we had a workshop on Mass Customization and Open Innovation in Tourism with very good discussions. On the afternoon all participants were invited by the University of Novi Sad to visit the Faculty of Technical Sciences.

We believe that the MCP-CE 2008 conference was successful, because it offered a perfect platform to exchanging ideas, discussing research resultsm and to network. If you are interested in the conference proceedings, please contact Zoran Anisic (Chairman of the Organizing Committee): azoran@vts.su.ac.yu.

The next MCP-CE will be hold in 2010, probably again in Novi Sad.

You find the full program of the 2008 conference and many more, including plenty of pictures, on the conference web site.

27 04, 2008

Ultimate Customization: Design and Deliver – a new project that examines the next era of mass customization

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:51+00:00 April 27th, 2008|Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, Guest Articles, Research Studies|

CardiffpicA guest article by Daniel Eyers from the Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (CUIMRC). CUIMRC is a new center at Cardiff University in the UK. In this post, Daniel describes about the mission and research at this center.

Imagine the opportunities that exist when the freedom of design opportunities afforded by Mass Customisation can be realised using innovative Rapid Manufacturing technologies, where one-off custom manufacturing is the norm, not the exception. As these technologies mature and become increasingly accessible to end-users, will this enablement of Mass Customisation be achievable? If so, what will be the effects of customised demand for business when compared to traditional Mass Production?

Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (CUIMRC), funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, is the UK’s leading research centre in the field of sustainable manufacturing R&D. Ultimate Customisation: Design & Deliver is a new project that examines the concept of Ultimate Customisation, the next era of Mass Customisation. Ultimate Customisation will involve much greater personalisation, where customers actively take part as co-designers and thus contribute to the value creation. The project aims to understand the viability of Ultimate Customisation using advanced manufacturing technologies such as those associated with Rapid Manufacturing. In this project we explore the possible implications of Rapid Manufacturing within a consumer facing environment, challenging traditional mass customisation production economics and disrupting existing commercial logistics, distribution and marketing paradigms.

Our previous consideration for Mass Customisation of logistics (through the McCLOSM study) demonstrated the implications for businesses in customising both logistics and manufacturing, and now that this project approaches its conclusion, the Ultimate Customisation: Design & Deliver project will continue to examine the implications of Rapid Manufacturing technology.

Considering the current status of knowledge, we have found that extensive literature exists for Mass Customisation, and separately, Rapid Manufacturing. However, as a result of rising individualism of consumer demand together with the technological improvement of Rapid Manufacturing, we believe these concepts will increasingly be implemented together in the short term. Despite numerous companies actively engaged in this field, as yet the body of knowledge analysing the overall topic has as yet received little research attention.

As a research centre, CUIMRC aims to help industry through creating greater understanding of the complex interrelationship between economics and environmental and social factors in developing a truly sustainable business. Our approach to research is to actively engage closely with our research partners and their associated supply chains in order to get an impartial, first hand viewpoint of their particular situation, while also allowing us to maximise the relevance and usefulness of our research outputs. Industrial secondments in which our researchers spend time embedded within host organisations have proven an extremely useful mechanism in this respect. We engage with stakeholders on several other levels, ranging from their participation in surveys and focus groups through to collaborative partnerships on individual projects and strategic input to the consortium through representation on our Steering Group.

The Ultimate Customisation project involves a number of collaborative industrial partners embarking on Rapid Manufacturing-Enabled Mass Customised production and through case studies and modelling approaches, we are exploring both demand and supply management implications arising from Mass Customisation. For the organisations involved in the project, our research aims to provide a clear understanding of both their present and prospective supply chains through ‘what-if’ simulations of futuristic business models for Ultimate Customisation. Additionally, from these assessments we can also assist in the optimisation of processes to directly benefit their business. The collaborative partners represent a cross section of industry, including highly experienced designers and manufacturers with capabilities both for rapid manufacture of customised products and traditional mass production.

During our research we anticipate making a number of Ultimate Customisation publications based on our research findings, many of which will be linked to our industrial collaboration. A warm invitation is extended to any individuals or organisations wishing to become involved with the research or receive project updates/dissemination information to register their interest with us.

Contact for more information Daniel Eyers (eyersDR@cf.ac.uk) or Hartanto Wong (wongH@cf.ac.uk).

12 03, 2008

Guest article: Why Mass Customization Fails

By | 2018-06-14T12:55:27+00:00 März 12th, 2008|Failures and Flaws, General, Guest Articles|

A Guest article by Ben Moore & Clint Lewis

Adapted from their book „The Consumer’s Workshop: The Future of American Manufacturing

Ben Moore is the Founder and President of Agent Technologies, Inc. a firm specializing in eCommerce 4 Manufacturing (sm) through manufacturing consultants and software applications. His prior experience has included managing global software projects with Procter & Gamble and leading the Pampers.com e-Commerce initiatives.

For over 17 years Clint Lewis was instrumental in the start up and expansion of many product lines at Procter & Gamble such as Pampers, Rely, and Luvs. Clint is the Founder and President of Lewis Group Consultants (LGC), an operations and technical manufacturing consultancy with a business philosophy that centers on „Maximizing the Merger of People and Machinery.“

We all know that Mass customization aims to provide goods and services that meet individual customers‘ requirements with near mass production efficiency. We also know the importance of Systemization, the process of defining what range of products will be made and what range of production processes will be employed and Standardization, the process of defining what specific products will be made and what specific production techniques will be used to make these products.

We even know how to build product configurators and structure the product choices we present to the customer. Since we know all these things, then why after the incredible financial justification has been made that many mass customization/product configuration projects fail and/or don’t provide the anticipated return on investment? What is typically missed is the HUMAN FACTOR.

No matter how great the systemization, standardization, product configuration implementations are, it still requires PEOPLE to run the system. Most of these major technology projects give more emphasis on the technology than the people and hence are more likely to fail and/or underperform.

I know what you are thinking…We provided customized training so the workforce would know how to use our product. However, systems that transform a company require much more than just training, but changing how the workforce actually works together. People can MAKE a system work or people can LET a system fail. Yes, the system NEEDS people and people can’t be managed like things….they must be led, engaged and energized.

Now how do you engage your workforce (which is typically our largest ongoing costs) to MAKING your systems work. This is not a foreign concept, as many of today’s leading corporations discovered many years ago, the key is creating an environment where employees are:

Valued: Employees are not only fairly compensated but also routinely solicited for their ideas regarding day-day business activities, growth opportunities and innovative concepts.

Empowered: This environment flourishes as a result of an “institutionalized” work system that actively recruits, hires and develops people who demonstrate superior people, technical and leadership skills. Workers are expected to make keys decisions at the lowest possible level and are accountable for results. They make production, quality and improvement decisions. Teams police each other and develop their own team and individual improvement strategies.

Educated: Workers are immersed in the continuous improvement philosophy from day one. They are provided “state of the business” information in a timely fashion both through their own initiative as well as through formal business discussions. They are provided the most current technology training and also given the necessary tools to allow them to effectively utilize this training.

Stakeholders: Simply stated, team members execute the running of the day-day business as though they are the primary owners. Their philosophy is to always provide a product or service that is consumer focused and as consumers, they would be first to purchase.

Sounds so simple….but it’s not. Some companies can’t make this change because of the culture that has been setup within the company. There is a science to setting up these types of systems to support major systematic changes within an organization. The answer to the future of American Manufacturing and manufacturing in all developed countries is full utilization of each human resource due to the global pressures from lower cost workforces around the world.

For a practitioner’s guide on implementing a major initiative like mass customization within an organization, read Ben and Clint’s book – The Consumer’s Workshop. http://www.theconsumersworkshop.com

Context: Interview wit the authors.

8 08, 2007

Rapid Manufacturing for Mass Customization: Good Report in DESIGN NEWS Analyzes Recent Development

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:38+00:00 August 8th, 2007|Cases-Industrial, Design, Fabbing, Guest Articles, MC/OI on the Web, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Design NewsJoseph Ogando, Senior Editor of DESIGN NEWS, a trade publication, recently published a great feature article on “ Rapid Manufacturing’s Role in the Factory of the Future”.

It reports on the use of laser sintering and similar direct manufacturing technologies not just to make prototypes but also to turn out production parts. It’s a practice that goes by many names — including rapid manufacturing, direct digital manufacturing, solid freeform fabrication and low-volume-layered manufacturing. All of the names refer to the use of additive fabrication technologies, which were initially intended for prototyping, to make finished goods, instead. Rapid manufacturing is considered to be one of the main enablers of mass customization of the future.

The report has a number of nice case studies and analyzes the main challenges or rapid manufacturing:

The biggest barrier in the coming years is seen with regard to materials. Some additive parts simply don’t measure up to their molded, machined and cast counterparts when it comes to tensile and other mechanical properties. … Another material issue involves freedom of choice. With additive technologies, engineers currently have to settle for a limited materials line-up. But as the article shows, the scope of applicable materials is fast growing.

A second barrier is seen in the persistent lack of design data. “it’s not so much that current prototyping materials have some shortcomings as the fact engineers have no way of knowing exactly what those shortcomings are.” The article cites a lack of long-term creep and environmental data for additive plastic parts and fatigue data for metals as the most glaring examples of this data deficiency. But rapid manufacturing observers expect more and more data will become available as direct digital manufacturing becomes more popular. In the meantime, large OEMs with stringent manufacturing requirements have worked to develop their own property data.

A third barrier quoted in the report are the capabilities of the existing machinery. Making good production parts every day ups the ante on process repeatability, quality control, throughput and reliability. “Today’s additive fabrication systems aren’t completely ready for prime time. They’re still primarily prototyping machines that you can coax into working as manufacturing systems”´, an industry expert is quoted in the report.

But despite these limitations, the article comes to a positive conclusion:

“With all these factors weighing against direct digital manufacturing, you might wonder, why bother? But, these additive systems already offer design benefits that can offset their manufacturing limitations.

For one, additive machines can produce complex part geometries without regard to conventional manufacturing limitations. Additive fabrication methods based on powder metal beds, for example, can enable parts with interior cavities and features that could not be machined or cast — at least not in an economical one-piece part. … The upshot of all this design freedom, and the benefit most cited by advocates of direct digital manufacturing, is parts consolidation.

How long will it take for engineers to recognize the design benefits associated with additive processes? Todd Grimm, a consultant to the rapid prototyping industry, thinks it could take 10 or even 20 more years given the current lack of familiarity with additive machines and the technical barriers associated with the machines themselves. …

For a handful of applications, though, the future is now. The best known and highest volume direct digital manufacturing niche has, so far, involved applications where mass customization plays a role. 3D Systems’ Reichental points to the hearing aids as one example and also says RM machines have seen use in the production of casting tools for Invisalign braces. And as the additive machines in general become more capable, … they’ll play a stronger role in other kinds of customized medical and dental devices whose geometry is tailored to the requirements of individual patients.”

– Read the full article here: Joseph Ogando, Rapid Manufacturing’s Role in the Factory of the Future, Design News´, 26 July 2007

– Other reports on rapid manufacturing in this blog.

Browse the program of the MCPC 2007 to explore talks and presentations on rapid manufacturing during the conference.

3 06, 2007

User Manufacturing and Crowdsourcing in New Zealand: How Ponoko enables creative users to create, manufacture, and sell digital products online

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:58+00:00 Juni 3rd, 2007|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Fabbing, Guest Articles, Long Tail, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

How Ponoko worksPonoko is a user manufacturing platform based in Wellington, New Zealand, where anyone can click to make, buy and sell digital products. Users upload designs, Ponoko manufactures them for them using rapid manufacturing technology, and send the result to users. If they like and approve the result, users then can start to sell their designs (and products) to others using Ponoko’s online shop and distribution system. And as in many ventures, the initiator of the business was a frustrated user who could not buy what he wanted to fulfill his needs. After reading about the idea of personal fabrication by Neil Gershenfield at MIT, a business was born.

I asked Dave ten Have, Ponoko’s founder and CEO, to describe how the company was founded and what the team wants to achieve. With the help of Steven Kempton , Ponoko’s chief blogging officer, the following guest article came in:

Ponoko was founded on the idea that making or buying individualized products shouldn’t be so complex, time-consuming and at a high cost, both financially and environmentally. It should be an enjoyable experience, where you can focus on the design and not be overly limited to what resources, materials or tools you may or may not have or know about.

The idea for Ponoko came from software entrepreneurs Dave ten Have and Derek Elley, both of whom have made a number of things where each experience left a sour taste. A particularly disappointing project was Dave’s experience in designing some wall art – a skateboard shape made of dark rich wood with mother of pearl inset designs. This small project took way too much time than Dave had anticipated – two years in fact. It took an incredible amount of phone calls and emails to multiple parties (mostly engineers who didn’t have an interest in creativity/art). In the end, it cost a huge amount for an unpleasant making / buying experience – and when it turned up, it was wrong and had to be sent back. The worst part was having to go through the horrid process all over again. (You can see Dave’s personal blog for pictures). After this and other disappointing experiences in making individualized projects, they founded Ponoko.

Encouraged by the rise of the Internet connected ‚creative-class‘ along with smarter, faster, smaller and cheaper digital manufacturing hardware (laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D printers that connect to your everyday PC), Dave and Derek formed a plan to solve these problems. They started with the premise that the personal computing and the personal manufacturing industries have strong parallels, realizing that one day everyone will be able to create and make any product from their own home. This led to the idea of mass-individualized products created by the Web community and made on a globally distributed network of manufacturing hardware controlled from any PC.

Today’s product making and distribution model is financially and environmentally unsustainable. It’s also under pressure to digitize like the music and video industries have. Because today’s 100-year old product making and distribution system is so ingrained into our every day lives and delivers so much benefit, problems are not so obvious. But when was the last time you made something?

Making products today does not come easy – some major problems exist:

* Making and delivering (individualized) products is a time consuming, complex and expensive process. This pain does not fit well in a world that is increasingly in demand for instant satisfaction from mass personalized and customized products at low cost.

* Product making and distribution is cost prohibitive for new entrants without relatively deep financial reserves. This is stifling mass creativity of real products and the progress of humanity on unimaginable fronts.

* Low cost mass production and global distribution relies upon using lots of cheap energy and labor. But these two resources are running out.

* Product making and distribution is a major contributor to the global warming problem (according to the WRI, perhaps 20% of the problem). Being environmentally unsustainable, the increasing ‚carbon currency‘ costs also make the current model financially unsustainable.

* Finding individualized products is very difficult and buying such products is a time consuming, relatively complex and expensive burden. Why is there no easy to find supplier of low cost personalized products?

These pressing problems illustrate that a new product making and distribution process is required. Our solution is made possible given the rise of the Internet connected ‚creative class‘ along with digital manufacturing hardware (laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D printers that connect to your everyday PC), and production materials.

The idea of Ponoko is to address these challenges and to deliver the future of product making and distribution to the mass market, today. Ponoko shall deliver the following benefits:

Less risk. On-demand design and manufacture is made possible, so work does not need to be commenced until a consumer makes a purchase. And because product designs can be sold to a large global audience from day one, pay back periods can be shortened.

Lower costs. With Ponoko, creators can now ship digital product designs with the click of a mouse, not physical products requiring a pocket full of cash. This is Apple iTunes for products, but with YouTube style user-generated content.

Instant scalability without cost. Ponoko’s distributed manufacturing model means the creator’s cost and time frame to manufacture a product for 1 customer is the same as for 1 million customers. Creators can sell millions of products on-demand at ’no‘ extra cost.

Increased control. Ponoko is specifically designed to provide end-to-end visibility & control over the entire product making and distribution process.

Less complexity. By connecting creators direct with consumers, the traditional supply chain complexity involving a manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler and retailer is eliminated.

But also for consumers, the system has a number of benefits. The main advantage are low cost individualized products. Because no physical product exists until purchase, product design collaboration makes it possible for everyone to co-create and personalize ‚almost anything‘ they need & want. As adoption increases, prices for Ponoko’s design-to-order and made-to-order commodity type products will become unrecognizably low.

We are in beta phase at the moment, so if you’re interested to find out how this all works and to help us make it the best making/buying experience you’ve had, please sign up.


Ponoko Blog
– Previous posts on the user manufacturing trend
Neil Gershenfield on personal fabrication

16 04, 2007

Guest Article: Market Relevancy for 21st Century Manufacturers — Connecting Your Customers to Your Enterprise

By | 2018-05-07T15:32:21+00:00 April 16th, 2007|Customization Trends, General, Guest Articles, Technologies & Enablers|

In this guest article, Dave Gardner, a long time mass customization veteran, comments on how companies can become a “progressive manufacturer” by moving towards mass customization.

Dave GardnerDavid J. Gardner is the Founder and Principal of mass-customization-expert, a consultancy helping companies in the design and integration of innovative business process and information technology solutions for companies. He has held management positions in Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service, and Product Management. He joined Tandem Computers in 1979 where he was responsible for Corporate Documentation Standards for Tandem’s highly configurable and expandable computer systems. In 1983, he designed and implemented a Configuration Guide for Dialogic Systems instituting a process that greatly simplified a complex, modular product such that the field sales organization and international OEM customers could easily define their order requirements. David improved the approach at System Industries in the late 1980’s by developing a methodology that not only accommodated „new system“ orders but also fully addressed „add-on“ orders. In 1991, he founded his consulting company. In July 2002, David was recruited by E-ONE, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of fire and rescue vehicles, as Vice President of Product Management to lead an enterprise-wide change initiative to transition the company from an “engineer-to-order” to a “mass customization” business paradigm. He is a graduate of San Jose State University (BA) and Santa Clara University (MBA).

Market Relevancy for 21st Century Manufacturers — Connecting Your Customers to Your Enterprise

In an ideal world, manufacturing executives would:

1) Carefully consider the over-arching business and operational strategies needed to create a truly compelling, differentiated business in their marketplace, and,

2) Select the business software applications.

How many companies start with Step 2? The vast majority! Why?

A manufacturing executives’ spotlight is usually aimed at the product and marketplace, not operational details unless there’s been a serious breakdown in the operational side of the business. Let’s face it—it’s hard to get executives excited about a new business application system.

When was the last time an executive from a manufacturing company exclaimed, “Our new ERP system is a true source of competitive advantage and differentiation in our market?” While it may be true that there are genuine business execution issues that arise from a poorly implemented, poorly architected, or an inappropriate ERP system, ERP by itself is not a source of competitive advantage. ERP is essentially a “back-office” tool.

The biggest question about new business systems is typically “how much is it going to cost and how long is it going to take?”

Last year, Managing Automation hosted the Progressive Manufacturing Summit 2006. David Brousell, Editor-in-Chief of Managing Automation, delivered an address “7 Rules to Win in a Global Market.” In his presentation, David defined the global manufacturing winners as “Progressive Manufacturers,” offering the following definition:

Progressive Manufacturers infuse technology into all areas of their business to create sustainable competitive advantage by connecting the customer to the manufacturing process.

This definition is powerful and compelling and should be the rallying cry behind all operational and information technology initiatives. Let’s break this down.

My first observation about the notion of being a “progressive manufacturer” is the holistic or seamless nature from a customer’s perspective. As a customer (or a prospective customer), wouldn’t you prefer to deal with a “progressive manufacturer” as it is defined above?

“Connecting the customer to the manufacturing process” implies that a company is customer-driven—the company, its business process and information technologies are seamlessly designed with the customer in mind and offer the customer the means to interact directly with the company. What might this mean?

– Being able to determine order status (in order administration, production control, production line, shipping, etc.)
– Being able to determine in-transit status
– Being able to look at financial issues (open invoices, paid invoices, etc.)

For companies that offer configurable products, “connecting the customer to the manufacturing process” suggests:

Being able to make decisions about the product or order configuration
Being able to understand the configuration possibilities, pricing and estimated lead time based on actual order configuration

“Sustainable” implies a continual state of evolution—that a company is constantly enhancing its ability to maintain its relevancy and value provided to the customer. There is no such thing as steady state or time-out. It is said in nature that there is no “steady state”—something is either growing or dying. The same can be said for manufacturing companies. Progressive companies enjoy no extended periods of relaxation.

“Competitive advantage” suggests you are doing things that you competitors are not. Generally, this would imply innovation either in technology, process or the way in which you delight the customer. If everybody else in your industry is doing exactly the same thing, how can a company expect to enjoy competitive advantage?” The other added benefit of seeking competitive advantage is it catches competitors by surprise and can take years for them to catch up. This is a stealth approach at its best.

Are there any companies that meet the criteria of being a “progressive manufacturer?” Dell is one of the best examples I can think of. I’m certain Cisco Systems is another. In reality, the number of manufacturers you could classify as “progressive” is probably quite small. That bodes well for companies seeking to differentiate themselves in their market.

Let’s circle back around to our original proposition:

In an ideal world, manufacturing executives would carefully consider the over-arching business and operational strategies needed to create a truly compelling, differentiated business in their marketplace.

A company seeking to become a “progressive manufacturer” has the opportunity to start with the objective of “infusing technology into all areas of their business to create sustainable competitive advantage by connecting the customer to the manufacturing process.”

This requires a holistic view of where you want to go as a business. It doesn’t make sense to select one or more applications in isolation of the total solution and hope that you can “connect the dots” later. It’s no different than having an architect design a house. You really can’t architect and build at the same time. However, once the architecture is complete, you can build away.

It’s best to fully understand and agree what the target is to ensure you end up becoming the “progressive manufacturer” David Brousell characterizes in his speech. Getting outside assistance with this is one way to ensure you don’t, as well-know author and consultant Alan Weiss often says, “breathe your own exhaust.” Once you have a comprehensive, coherent vision, you can then begin to assemble the pieces of the solution. To do otherwise, is to open the door to a less than satisfactory solution.

Contact Dave Gardner at
USA/Canada: +1.888.488.4976
International: +1.775.722.8230

14 04, 2006

Participate at a survey on Automotive Interior Customization and Personalization

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:25+00:00 April 14th, 2006|Guest Articles, Research Studies|

Jacob Barhak, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems, College of Engineering, University of Michigan (jbarhak@umich.edu) asked me to post a link to the following survey on my blog:

Car „Imagine you can personalize your future car by designing its interior and visualizing it, prior to buying it. The technology that will allow such interior car design by the customer and then mass production of these personalized vehicles is not yet available. However, your help can assist research in this direction.

So how can you help if you’re interested? If you can spare 5-10 minutes, please visit a web site that contains narrated presentations that explain the research. After viewing the presentations you may choose to help this research by participating in an anonymous survey.

Start with the survey here:

22 02, 2006

New Special Issues and Web-Publications on Mass Customization and Open Innovation

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:36+00:00 Februar 22nd, 2006|Books, Clothing, Furniture - Home, General, Guest Articles, MC/OI on the Web, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Within the last weeks, several print or online journals have dedicated special issues to mass customization and open innovation. They contain some really great contributions on different aspects of these themes. So start browsing with this little collection:

WooddigestWood Digest – Mass Customization in the furniture industry. Wood Digest magazine is a monthly publication reaching over 51,000 woodworking professionals including those who manufacture cabinets, millwork and specialty wood products. The magazine provides global coverage of technical advances in equipment and supplies to assist its readers in overcoming productivity challenges.

The journal’s January 2006 issue is dedicated entirely to the topic of mass customization – and I highly recommend to browse though it and read these articles. Especially the opening article by Don Shultz provides a great background story and general analysis. Other articles report about special application, case studies form the furniture industry or IT support.

Read the whole issue here.

OsbookHow Open is the Future? A book on the Economic, Social & Cultural Scenarios inspired by Free and Open Source Software. This book offers a constructive and innovative look on the boundaries of intellectual property, as well as new and open forms of collaboration, not only situated in an academic and industrial context, but in musical and artistic spheres as well.

The book is released under a Creative Commons License – this means it is freely available online as full text — and presents an interdisciplinary perspective how open source spftware can serve as a role model for many more ideas beyond software.

From the book’s jacket:

„There are two reasons why the free and open-source software issue has become such an inspirational and powerful force today: the rise of the Internet and the growing tendency to protect all intellectual property. Internet technology made it possible to handle massive decentralized projects and irreversibly changed our personal communication and information research. Intellectual property, on the other hand, is a legal instrument which – due to recent excesses – became the symbol of exactly the opposite of what it had been developed for: the protection of the creative process. As a result, free-thinking programmers, scientists, artists, designers, engineers and scholars are daily trying to come up with new ways of creating and sharing knowledge. In 2003 Vrije Universiteit Brussel launched its university and industry network called CROSSTALKS, aimed at developing a new interdisciplinary exchange dynamic for key players in society. This first CROSSTALKS book provides an open, constructive platform for a wide range of researchers, lawyers, artists, journalists and activists invited to air their complementary – and sometimes contradictory – views and discuss future prospects for the driving forces of our time.“

Read more and get this really interesting book at http://crosstalks.vub.ac.be

Kpmg_1KPMG Study „Retailers Find That Customized Clothing Is the Right Fit: Apparel retailers are waking up to the reality of mass customization in clothing.“ This is the title of a KPMG study which is summarized on the „KPMG Consumer Markets Insider“ web site. Worthwhile analysis and some nice figures:

„Mass customization isn’t just about customer satisfaction, but also about pumping up margins. About 20 percent of the population wants custom apparel — and they’re willing to pay an extra 30 percent or more for it.“

„Retailers have been developing sizes based on standards that date back to body measurements taken before World War II. But the United States has become taller and heavier than previous generations, and only 10 to 20 percent of Americans fit the national standards.“

„About 54 percent of consumers have difficulty in finding clothes that fit and 68 percent don’t bother to try them on because they find it such an unpleasant experience. Retailers that provide consumers with the ability to customize their apparel size, could earn up to 25 percent more per purchase.“

Read the whole story here.

PomontlyPO Monthly is a website for people interested in operations management. They regularly run special theme issues, and the latest was dedicated to mass customization. Topics include a general overview and discussion, a look on MC web design, and a great case study on mass customization in architecture. See the full issue here.

The Manufacturer, another online magazine for the manufacturing community, recently run a focus article on manufacturing, too. Pamela Derringer reports on general mass customization issues and explains the systems of Dell and LEGO in more detail.

IjfmsThe International Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems just issued a special issue on mass customization. Number 4 of Volume 16, guest-edited by Ashok Kumar and published by Springer, has four long academic papers on different mass customization aspects: Mass Customization: Metrics and Modularity, by Ashok Kumar; Mass Customization: Reflections on the State of the Concept, by Frank T. Piller; Process Variety Modeling for Process Configuration in Mass Customization: An Approach Based on Object-Oriented Petri Nets with Changeable Structures, by Jianxin (Roger) Jiao, Lianfeng Zhang and Kannan Prasanna; Mass Customization in Videotape Duplication and Conversion: Challenges of Flexible Duplication Systems, Fast Delivery, and Electronic Service, by Gregory R. Heim. Check the abstracts of all papers here.

However, to read the full text, you have to pay a VERY heavy price for each paper, so I do not advertise this more as it just supports an old and outdated business model (but the papers are worth it and great contributions to the field!). Check if your local university library has subscribed to the journal or if you find a full text database with its content.

Talking about outdated: The issue officially has the date „October 2004“, which is strange as I wrote my contribution for this particular issue in summer 2005. There are probably good reasons of the publisher for this, even if these are beyond the understanding of their customers. But this is just another reason why open access publishing as proposed in the Crosstalks book mentioned before is a more sustainable model for the future.

OscarFinally, a special issue on mass customization in GERMAN LANGUAGE only: OSCAR, eine hoch professionelle Studenteninitiative an der Uni Köln, hat ihren neusten OSCAR Trend Newsletter unter das Schwerpunktthema Mass Customization gestellt. Die im Web verfügbare Ausgabe enthält viele spannende Beiträge:

Mass Customization: Definition und Charakteristika von Detlef Schoder und Stefan Grasmugg geben eine Einführung in das Themengebiet und stellen einige der entscheidenden Merkmale heraus.

Exklusive Meisterwerke – vom Massenprodukt zum Unikat Professor Bruhnke ist Geschäftsführer der BMW M GmbH, einer 100%igen Tochter der BMW AG. Er ist neben den M Fahrzeugen und dem Fahrertraining auch für den Bereich BMW Individual verantwortlich – die wirkliche Individualisierung im Hause BMW (jenseits von Mass Customization). Bruhnkes Beitrag stellt die Historie und das aktuelle Angebot von BMW Individual vor und gibt einen Ausblick in die Zukunft.

Mass Customization: Prinzipien und Erfolgsfaktoren. Mein Artikel in diesem Newsletter beschreibt einige Mechanismen und Erfolgsfaktoren von Mass Customization.

Von der Mass Customization (MC) zur Seriellen Unikatfertigung (SU). Kristin Müller ist Geschäftsführerin des Möbelherstellers InVIDO GmbH. Die dort praktizierte „serielle Unikatsfertigung“ ist ein Modell von Mass Customization in der Möbelindustrie. Müller beschreibt aus praktischer Sicht, wie sich Mass Customization in ihrer Branche darstellt und welche künftigen Entwicklungen sie für möglich hält.

Mass Customization – Kundenwunsch vs. Massenramsch von Nils Holle, Trend Recherche der OSCAR GmbH. Während seiner dreimonatigen Recherchetätigkeit für das Magazin hat er unterschiedliche Tendenzen und Strömungen der Mass Customization kennen gelernt. Vom Standpunkt des Beobachters zeigt er, mit dem unvoreingenommenen Blick des Verbrauchers, Grenzen dieses Themas auf.

1 02, 2006

Outside inspiration on mass customization and open innovation

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:37+00:00 Februar 1st, 2006|General, Guest Articles, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

I was rather lazy (or too busy) in the last weeks to frequently post into this blog. But there are various other very good blogs which deal with similar subjects. So as a backup, here my own reading list (comments and suggestions for further listings welcomed!):

The world out thereMadeForOne.com is a web site by Ireland based Donal Reddington, reporting since two years frequently and really in depth about interesting trends in mass customization business and technology. Donal has a journalistic approach to mass customization, and has compiled over the years a really interesting collection of articles, cases, and analysis. A recent interesting contribution is his 2005-2006 „List of the Most Important People in Mass Customization„. While a number of people very well deserving to be on this list are missing, it is a great starting point for further exploration.

B2Day on Culture of Participation: Business 2.0 is a great US business journal, which also publishes a great web blog. And on this web blog,, editor Erick Schonfeld has a great series of articles on the „Culture of Participation“ – his term for User Innovation, Web 2.0, Open Innovation and Value Co-Creation. He provides a really insightful and in-depth analysis of this topic. Some of the old links in the blog are broken, but in general this site is a very good reference and source for new ideas on open innovation.

Outside Innovation: Patricia Seybold is one of the best known writers (next to her day job as a consultant) on the customer revolution and the new role of customers in a connected world. While her earlier books focused on how firms can improve the customer experience, her new book „Outside Innovation“, due in Oct. 2006, will focus on the role of customers in innovation. In her blog with the same name, she is co-creating this book already now with her potential readers. She asks for examples and feedback, but provides also in-depth analysis on the topic.

Consumer Empowerment: Paul Marsden, a researcher at the London School of Economics, and Martin Oetting, a researcher at ESCP-EAP European School of Management in Berlin write a blog on customer empowerment and how firms can use empowered customers as a business strategy, or, as the blog’s authors call it, „letting target buyers call the shots on your marketing and innovation.“ Great collection of case studies on open innovation and customer co-creation.

Exciting Ecommerce: And finally a blog in GERMAN language, but worthwhile also for English speaking readers to auto-translate with Google Bablefish. In this Blog, Jochen Krisch, a Munich based consultant, reports very frequently on new e-commerce trends and news. And one of his favorite topics is mass customization and configuration. Especially everyone interested in Spreadshirt.com, the leading mass customizer in the world in the t-shirt market, should read this blog: You will get a full analysis of Spreadshirt’s business strategy and developments.

More interesting blogs or feeds:


24 08, 2005

Web Analytics, Mass Customization, and Metadata Converge

By | 2018-05-07T15:35:32+00:00 August 24th, 2005|Guest Articles, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

A guest article by Jack Aaronson, Head of Aaronson Consulting

[reprinted from http://www.clickz.com/experts/crm/traffic/article.php/3488916 ].

Jack Aaronson
You responded more to two column series [of Jack Aaronson in ClickZ]. last year than any other columns combined: the metadata series and the mass customization series. Since return-on-investment (ROI) marketing involves understanding analytics
and how well your site and products are performing, let’s revisit these two topics to understand how sales data and analytics are affected by these two separate, yet intertwined, ideas.

An interesting byproduct of mass customization and detailed metadata is a much more granular understanding of trends and style. Products are currently created based on what’s popular and selling well. Although this ensures new products are introduced to an accepting marketplace, it also limits creativity. Also, it can sometimes be wrong.

Imagine a pair of jeans mass-produced by a major brand. It’s the strongest seller of the season. Based on that knowledge, the company creates a new series of jeans based on the same design concept. The original jeans had a different type of pocket and a different type of stitching. Yet the entire new line of jeans fails to find a market
when released.

How’s that possible?

Likely, the specific attribute that contributed to the high sales wasn’t known. Though the defining traits of the jeans were new pockets and stitching, perhaps the fabric was what consumers responded to. Hundreds of variables go into making each product. It’s difficult to know, based on sales data alone, which attributes informed the buying decision.

Companies test new products as a matter of course. They ask consumers what they like about the new product. Consumers, however, can’t always tell you why they like something. New-car buyers may say they bought the car because of its mileage or comfortable seats. Trend analysis may show the actual selling points were the handling or look of its fenders.

If the jeans manufacturer in the above example had the ability to mass-customize its jeans, it might have better understood why that initial pair of jeans sold so well. Mass customization allows a new level of meta-data collection about buying habits. The jeans manufacturer would be able to report on the highest-selling pocket type, stitching, material, color, cut, and zipper style. This level of knowledge could enable it to create a new mass-produced line of clothing based on the best attributes
of its customized line.

A personalized user experience focused on these attributes can go one step further in creating a customized user experience based on products and their attributes. If, for instance, the user selects a certain color for an apparel item, the personalized user experience can show other products in that color. It could suggest complementary colors. It could even put together a matched wardrobe based on color palettes.

A personalized experience based on this granular knowledge can even help companies that sell only mass-produced products. One of our clients sells jewelry. Though they can tell what the best-selling items are, they couldn’t tell you why. We created an attribute-based search/browse system that allows users to search by attributes, not just product categories. These attributes are normalized across the entire product inventory.

Instead of just browsing for „bracelets,“ the user can look specifically at bracelets that are „gold,“ „24k,“ and „white“ and feature „diamonds.“ The user similarly can look at all other types of jewelry, filtering by the same attributes.

The reporting difference is huge. Now, the company can see not only what products sell well but also trends in what people like. It can see platinum jewelry across all product lines is selling better than gold. It can see diamonds surrounded by rubies are a fashion trend, as opposed to diamonds surrounded by another stone. It can understand not only what products are doing well but why they’re doing well.

This knowledge helps the business in several ways. The marketing department can better plan promotions and know what to feature on prominent pages of its Web site and catalog. Buyers can better predict what types of jewelry will sell well and maximize its inventory. Jewelry manufacturers get valuable feedback on why people like their products and other products it should manufacture.

Web analytics, mass customization, and metadata combine in an extremely powerful way. They allow companies to understand minute details about customers‘ preferences and buying/browsing habits. Companies will understand the ROI of their products‘ detailed aspects beyond anything ascertainable simply by crunching SKU-based sales data.

Jack can be reached at jraaronson@jraaronson.com