The era of mass customization is here, driven by customers who not only expect personalized products and experiences but are significantly more loyal to manufacturers that provide them.
The question is, how many manufacturers are equipped to seize this opportunity right now? For most of them, the challenge of mass customization is tied to legacy manufacturing systems and processes. Though heavily modified to meet today’s requirements, they typically lack the agility and connectivity of a modern, data-driven approach to tackle mass customization complexity.
“The ambition of manufacturers to produce first time right in mass customization is challenging to achieve, unless they're able to leverage data early in the product design phase. This is only possible when every function in the manufacturer’s operations is connected,” said Julien Calviac, NETVIBES-EXALEAD Senior Director of Strategic Planning at Dassault Systèmes.
Enter Industry 4.0 and its innovations. Connected ecosystems is one Industry 4.0-led advancement that reshapes the manufacturing world and plays a pivotal role in accelerating better mass customization results.
“Industry 4.0 envisions digitally integrated, flexible processes that span the value chain from product design to manufacturing to distribution. Seamless data availability is critical in realizing the objective of Industry 4.0,” said Fred Thomas, DELMIA Strategic Business Development and Marketing Director at Dassault Systèmes.
Becoming full-fledged product configurators requires manufacturers to first transform connected ecosystems’ wealth of data into actionable insights. These data-driven insights allow them to form closer relationships with customers, continuously improve processes and build agility.
“To unlock the full potential of mass customization, manufacturers need to deliver the right information at the right time from a common data model to the value chain contributors on a real-time basis,” said Fred.
This is possible with a digitalization strategy that’s platform-centric. Only then can manufacturers derive significant value from their connected data and benefit in these game-changing ways:
True connection with customers
One of the biggest opportunities in connected, customized production comes from providing customers the ability to co-create with manufacturers on products that are sure to fulfill market needs. More than that, the data flow of customer preferences helps manufacturers generate more accurate customer profiles, which in turn helps them better predict and deliver products that win customer loyalty.
Culture of continuous iteration
The data doesn’t stop after the product has left the factory. Some of the most valuable data comes from how customers use the product and how the experience can be better. This behavioral data enables manufacturers to continuously improve their product offerings and, subsequently, optimize their operations to remain competitive in the market.
Increased agility and reduced risks
A connected ecosystem is crucial for successful mass customization as it enables visibility of manufacturers’ entire operations and swift information sharing. This provides manufacturers the agility to implement changes and adapt to evolving customer behavior and preferences. Additionally, by including customer learnings earlier in the process, manufacturers can reduce risks and avoid costly missteps of investing heavily in products that may lack market demand.
Boosted productivity, lower costs
Mass customization only works if manufacturers can deliver to customers the right product on time without having to overstock on inventory and manage high levels of manufacturing waste. The stream of data insights across the value chain not only helps manufacturers achieve this but also facilitates better-informed decisions to improve productivity and cost containment in key areas such as procurement, inventory management and transportation.
“A lot of big data analytics solutions in the market provide good tools to analyze transactional data. But when it comes to mass customization, the data is not linear. It's not just rows in a simple table. So performing big data analytics becomes much more complex,” said Julien.
To deliver customized product offerings at scale, manufacturers need a data model that drives connected ecosystems and manufacturing agility. The solution can be found in the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides a digital thread from product design to distribution, thereby integrating people and information in the manufacturer’s organization and value chain. It allows manufacturers to collect, analyze and transform data from Industry 4.0’s connected ecosystems into insights for continuous improvement of products and operations.
The platform powers a closed-loop environment where processes are virtually simulated to ensure quick response to market demand shifts and order patterns while minimizing risks. Performance metrics from manufacturing operations can be looped back to a virtual twin of the factory for analysis based on the aggregated information from each plant.
“Dassault Systèmes has taken the Industry 4.0 concept to the next level with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that provides a connected, smart manufacturing experience for all stakeholders. Our platform delivers a real-time and data-driven approach to rapidly adapt to the peaks and troughs of day-to-day operations, especially changing customer demands. The result is optimized operations and agile delivery of products that always align to customer preferences,” Fred concluded.
Digitalization enables manufacturers to use data insights to address customer needs through mass customization. This ebook reveals the full strategy.
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