Mass customization & digitizing the supply chain

In some respects, small companies--especially startups--are excellent candidates for front-to-back supply-chain digitization since they don’t have the drag of legacy systems and products that can hold back larger, older enterprises.

The digital transformation is touching all elements of industry, while consumers are increasingly demanding greater customization. These trends complement one another.

Christian Leeser, CEO of FRABA Group chats with us about the growth of mass Lessercustomization and the benefits that result from the digitization of the supply chain. Take a look...

Smart Industry: Describe your approach to “mass customization.” 

Christian: Traditionally, customers have had to choose between mass-produced or custom-built products. Mass-produced items are cost-effective, but will often require compromises in terms of performance or adaptability. Custom-built products will come closer to meeting a customer’s exact requirements, but are typically much costlier. Our concept of “mass customization” is aimed at providing the best of both worlds. POSITAL’s sensors are made up of largely interchangeable components and sub-assemblies so that an enormous range of configurations can be built by putting together parts with the appropriate characteristics. Everything is controlled by a data-centered industrial model that allows us to build each customer exactly what he needs--quickly and efficiently--while keeping costs at mass-production levels.

Smart Industry: Why is the digitization of the supply chain critical for businesses?

Christian: An essential feature of our mass-customization approach is that almost all production is made-to-order in response to customer requests. This requires complete process integration. The front end of this system is POSITAL’s web-based Product Finder tool. Customers and distributors can “build” sensors that meet their requirements by selecting from a menu of features and characteristics. This system feeds orders to our production-control system that guides product assembly, testing and delivery. A master database maintains a full history of each device to facilitate service support. The result? Customers get what they need, delivered when they need it, at an affordable price.

Smart Industry: What industries are taking advantage of the opportunities with supply-chain digitization? 

Christian: Industries such as ours, which produce high-value, highly configurable products, have been early innovators in this area since supply-chain digitization enables us to be very responsive to customer demand without the burden of large, finished-goods inventories. However, any industry that wants to keep close to their customers can benefit from supply-chain digitization.

Smart Industry: Can small companies benefit from this digitization as much as large enterprises?

Christian: In some respects, small companies--especially startups--are excellent candidates for front-to-back supply-chain digitization since they don’t have the drag of legacy systems and products that can hold back larger, older enterprises.

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