Flexible manufacturing systems

One of the pillars of DEZMPP’s development was to respond to the need for manufacturing systems to fulfill the market that is increasingly operating in an environment of greater variability, with the production of products in a greater variety and smaller quantities.

In fact, in the last 20 years we have witnessed the growth of the possibility for consumers to customize the product or service they intend to purchase, with an ever-increasing set of components or accessories. This mass customization trend is getting stronger and heading towards more sophisticated levels, such as individualized customization in which there is a single product per customer 4, that is leading to the production of Batch of One.

In High Mix – Low Volume (HMLV) environments, there is usually a wide variety of products that may eventually use common components and that results from companies providing the customer with partial or total customization of the product 1. In this case, the unpredictability of orders means that planning can only be done in the short term and therefore, a Make to Order (MTO) / Build to Order (BTO) strategy is the most suitable for this type of production1 2. For this strategy to work, there must be a synergy between the following three factors2:
• Process flexibility: The speed with which the company makes decisions, changes plans or corrects ongoing orders in order to satisfy customer needs;
• Product Flexibility: The company’s ability to adapt a product to customer specifications and also to delay or reduce the degree of adaptation of the product. Mass customization and late product configuration are avenues for its flexibility;
• Volume flexibility: A company’s ability to respond to changes in demand by changing production volume.

1 – A. Amaresh and K. Oooramvely, “Standardization in a High Mix Low Volume Company: A Case Study”, Dissertation, 2020, External Link .
2 – H. Matthias and P. Frits, “Successful Build-to-Order Strategies: Start with the Customer. Sloan Management Review. 43”, 2001, External Link .
4 – McKinsey team, “Feature article – How technology can drive the next wave of mass customization”, McKinsey on Business Technology Number 32, Winter 2013, External Link .

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