Free Essay. Mass Customization and Flexible Manufacturing

Published: 2023-01-09
Free Essay. Mass Customization and Flexible Manufacturing
Type of paper:  Case study
Categories:  Supply chain management Strategic management Business strategy Customer service
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1408 words
12 min read

Manufacturing involves the value added by the manufacturers by converting raw materials into end products that can be used at the industrial level or by the consumers. In chapter 5 of Supply chain logistics management by Bowersox, David, Cross, and Cooper, (2013), it is noted that the gap between the manufacturers and consumers is filled by distributors or wholesalers' companies as well as retailers that convey the commodities directly to the user. The competency of manufacturing companies is based on the volume of production, variety, constraints, brand power, and lead-time requirements. The critical factors that drive the behavior of both consumers and manufacturers include quality of the product, safety, and innovation (Bowersox et al. 2013). The process that the manufacturers undergo to bridge these gaps involve mass customization of products as well as flexible manufacturing. Mass customization involves the use of technological advancement processes to produce goods on a large scale, according to the customers' desires. Flexible manufacturing is the ability of the manufacturers to enhance their systems to be able to accommodate various designs of the end product and hence meet the demands of a wide variety of consumers. This summary paper aims to illuminate details on mass customization as well as flexible manufacturing. The paper indicates how a modular home construction company can combine the two strategies and benefit from the merging of the processes.

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According to Bowersoxet al. (2013), the need to carry out a mass customization strategy is to match the manufacturing strategies to the market requirements. In order to execute mass customization, the firm needs to inculcate strategic alternatives of production. Strategic alternative methods of production include make-to-plan (MTP), also known as market-to-stock {MTS}), assemble-to-order (ATO), and make-to-order (MTO). Industries that employ MTP strategies, exploit economies of scale by producing in large scale as significant finished goods are manufactured and stored (Bowersox et al. 2013). This is due to the anticipated future customer requirements based on the market that the firm serves from its record books (Wang & Koh, 2010). This strategy enables the company to produce a significant product quantity in various criteria as per the anticipated customer demands. MTO manufacturing strategies operate in contrast to MTP. These strategies seek to manufacture as per the customer specifications as ordered at the time. MTO strategy gives the firm a tip of what the customers in the market desire (Plunkett, 2007). This compels the company to produce a massive quantity of the ordered product to keep stock of the specialized commodity, thus able to meet anticipated customers' needs. In ATO situations, the company can produce new designs according to new trends or depending on their designers and keep in store in anticipation of future customer orders.

Manufacturers can choose to practice mass customization of products through the delivery of the critical parts within hours' strategy in a bid to match the current market dynamics. Speed in processing is increasingly vital in supply chain differentiator (Bowersox et al. 2013). This is significant in the supply of critical parts where customers expect delivery in short periods such as hours and not days. As stated by Scott Collins, there are two forces that drive the development of this service (Bowersox et al. 2013). The warranty contracts required between the manufacturers and their end users is significant. This is because it predetermines if a product can be produced within hours and delivered in time, with minimal recalls. Companies are always looking to improve their services to their end consumers and hence the need to facilitate for hourly deliveries in meeting urgent customer needs. This strategy can be implemented at a massive level where companies can core-share the market (Pawlewski & Greenwood, 2014). For example, orders can be meant for a company x, but the company is unable to deliver the demand. The company x can, therefore, opt to forward the request to company z via EDI, internet, fax or one of the call centers used by both companies. They can request the production of an urgent order within hours, and the customers' needs are eventually met conveniently.

Flexible manufacturing is vital in the expansion of a company as it grows the market size, enabling the firm to acquire new market territories (Plunkett, 2007). For the companies' manufacturing processes to embrace flexibility and expand confidently, the companies' logistics need to be effective. The raw material must be procured timely to enhance the firms' production flexibility. Companies can implement techniques such as Just-in-Time (JIT) in every area of production, hence facilitating a smooth manufacturing process. In the JIP technique, orders can be determined by targeting and concentrating on the finished products being manufactured. Just-in-time arrival of raw materials can coincide with the company's production schedule resulting in minimal inventories and reduced handling in the production process (Pawlewski & Greenwood, 2014). This ensures the company is at all times producing as per the demands of the customers, as well as ensuring there is no dead stock. This makes products available to the consumers as well as balances the finances of the company and enables an efficient profit monitoring and control system. This technique makes it easy and efficient in dealing with suppliers with high levels of quality as their products will go directly into the end product. The reliability of this method eliminates buffer stocks and enhances performance levels.

In a bid to enhance the manufacturing sector, Materials Requirement Planning (MRP) can be employed in companies manufacturing systems. MRP is a process that is used in complex manufacturing companies to enhance flexible manufacturing. This method minimizes inventory, coordinates deliveries between manufacturing activities and procurement procedures, and helps in maintaining high utilization of manufacturing capacity. However, the implementation of MRP systems requires a high level of sophisticated technologies (Bowersox et al. 2013). There have been developments of software applications such as advanced planning and scheduling systems that have the capacity to deal with complex information that may be required. The information required may include lead times, machine capacities for thousands of materials across the various manufacturing locations as well as quantities on-hand and on-order.

The design for logistics concept is vital in the product development stages in the company. This concept can be integrated with the logistics interface and the procurement and manufacturing systems as well as the engineering and marketing platforms (Wang & Koh, 2010). The design of the final product and that of the raw materials components can affect the JIT and the MRP techniques as well as the design of logistics. It is critical for the design of all relevant materials to be considered to be in tandem with all the other intermediary processes as well as the design of logistics.

A modular home construction company can combine both the flexible manufacturing with the mass customization techniques to bolster its efficiency in manufacturing. The merging of strategic alternative methods with logistical interfaces can be beneficial as the production rates will be enhanced. Assemble-to-order (ATO) strategy can be merged with the design for logistics strategy (Jansson, 2007). This will ensure that customers' anticipated orders are executed efficiently and according to the recent designs available in the market to the satisfaction of any new customers that may be interested. This can boost the relationship of the customers and the firm, hence increases business and profits for the firm (Plunkett, 2007). The merging of make-to-order strategy, as well as the delivery of the critical parts within hours with just-in-time technique, can help in ensuring the order of the customers is executed in time (Jansson, 2007). This improves the efficiency of the company and the relationship between the two. In this case, raw materials are delivered in time, with the corresponding customers' orders as well as the intervention of the just-in-time technique.

Carrying out mass customization of products enhances the manufacturers' ability to accommodate specific customer requirements. This strategy enables the firm to effectively compete and integrate the manufacturing capability into a meaningful marketing value proportion. In addition, the integration of flexible manufacturing techniques into a system of a particular manufacturing firm with mass customization practices facilitates the smooth running of the organization. In this regard, it is clear, as per Bowersox et al. (2013), that these methods can and will improve a company's productivity when practiced to the later. Policies should be introduced in the manufacturing sector, to compel the industries to merge the mass customization and flexible manufacturing strategies to enhance production. This will not only benefit the customer, but the industries will gain more profits as well as comply with regulations, hence operating in harmony with regulatory bodies.

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