The needs of each consumer and each business are individualistic. Satisfying these needs quickly, efficiently, and at an optimal cost is the holy grail of discrete manufacturers. The concept of individualization is exemplified in the personalized therapies that modern medicine is attempting to deliver. Personalized therapies are optimized to be safer; they result in better patient outcomes and promise lowered cost. However, patient-centricity and personalization are complex. If not managed correctly, they can cause a higher cost of medical products. Thus, personalized products [WB1] are ideally suited to the concept of lot-size-one. The concept shifts the traditional “once size fits all” production approach and moves to tailor-made products, packaging, services, and delivery. The concept of lot-size-one is seeping into the manufacturing of everything: footwear, sports goods, apparel, pet supplies, jeweler, paper products, home lifts, electronics, etc. The challenge is to manufacture these customized products economically in several variants and on an industrial scale.
Thriving in the new paradigm of customization with digital manufacturing
Meeting the demand for customization has become especially difficult because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains. The benefits of lot-size-one have become more challenging to visualize, model, and achieve. The variables that need to be factored into defining an effective solution have become asset-centric, and the efficacy of the solutions will be dictated by a silo-less data strategy and digital manufacturing systems that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
The Five R’s of digital manufacturing
We know the pandemic has re-structured the way organizations manage their business. Today’s businesses must operate by clustering their approach around 5Rs: Responsible, Responsive, Reliable, Resilient, and Re-skilled (see Figure 1).