3 Axioms on Mass Customization

I“ve found these intersting Axioms on MC in an HP Article called:
Mass Customization at Hewlett-Packard: The Power of Postponement

1. A product should be designed so it consists of independent
modules that can be assembled into different
forms of the product easily and inexpensively.

2. Manufacturing processes should be designed so
that they, too, consist of independent modules that
can be moved or rearranged easily to support different
distribution-network designs.

3. The supply network – the positioning of inventory
and the location, number, and structure of manufacturing
and distribution facilities – should be designed
to provide two capabilities. First, it must be
able to supply the basic product to the facilities performing
the customization in a cost-effective manner.
Second, it must have the flexibility and the responsiveness
to take individual customers’ orders
and deliver the finished, customized goods quickly.

First, a company can maximize the number of standard
components it uses in all forms of the product,
assemble those components for all product options
in the earlier stages of the assembly process, and
postpone the addition of the components that differentiate
the product until the later stages of the
process. Second, a company can make the modules
of the product separately; in fact, it can manufacture
different modules at the same time, which
significantly shortens the total time required for
production. Third, a company can more easily diagnose
production problems and isolate potential quality problems.

Consider a component that is not standardized: a
dedicated power supply, or a power supply that cannot
automatically convert voltage. In the global
electronics market, building a dedicated power supply
into a product in the first stages of production
forces a manufacturer to commit to the product’s
country of destination. If a company has a long production
process or delivery time from factory to
end consumer, having this kind of power supply
makes it difficult to mass-customize efficiently.
But a company could standardize components, designing
or purchasing a single power supply that
would work across an entire product family or, ideally,
across many product families. Alternatively,
the company could postpone the assembly of the
power supply until a later point in the production
process. Either approach would result in greater
flexibility and lower costs

1.  Marketing must determine the extent to which
mass customization is needed to fulfill customers’
2.  Research and development must redesign the
product so that it can be customized at the most efficient
point in the supply network.
3.  Manufacturing and distribution must coordinate
both the supply and the redesign of materials and
situate manufacturing processes in the most efficient
4.  Finance must provide activity-based cost information
and financial analyses of the alternatives.

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