Edited by Frank T. Piller, Ralf Reichwald and Mitchell M. Tseng, International Journal of Mass Customisation, Volume 1 - Issue 2/3 – 2006 (ISSN: 1742-4208).
In 1993, when we started this field of research, our graduate students complained about not many reference articles, only a score of them on mass customization at that time. Today, we can identify more than 2,500 published papers on mass customization and personalization, and their number grows rapidly. To overcome the scope and speed issues of knowledge explosion in this area, the bi-annual World Congress on Mass Customization (MCPC) has been organized since 2001.
Among the more than 250 authors presenting their work at the MCPC 2003 conference (held at the Technische Universität München, Munich), we invited a number of authors to submit a chapter for a special issue, based on their representativeness of particular issues in the subject. After a long editing and publication process, these papers has just been published as a special issue of the International Journal of Mass Customization (IJMassC, 1 (2006) 2/3).
Read the editorial paper on "Competitive Advantage through Customer Centric Enterprises" by Frank Piller, Mitchell Tseng and Ralf Reichwald in full text here (free PDF download).
The other papers have to be purchased by the publisher. Here an overview of all papers of this issue (contact Inderscience directly to order the entire volume at a special price: Inderscience Enterprises Limited, Fax: +41 22 7910885, email@example.com).
The first four papers deal with the genus of mass customization, the co-design process between each individual customer and the manufacturer in order to specify a custom product. Margarita B. Guilabert and Naveen Donthu discuss the development of a scale to measure customer customization sensitivity to evaluate whether customers are interested in mass customization anyway. It seems obvious that if consumers are not interested in customization there is no need to pursue customization strategies. Consumers may be more or less inclined toward different types of mass customized products/services, and therefore, it is critical to know how important customization is for consumers. The paper presents an approach how companies can evaluate the likeliness of customers to evaluate a mass customization offering.
Given that a mass customization offering appears appealing for a customer, Sri Hartati Kurniawan, Richard H. Y. So and Mitchell M. Tseng evaluate in the next paper how the co-design process is perceived from the customers’ perspective. The paper reports the results of an experimental investigation of differences between product configuration and product selection in terms of consumers’ decision quality. The results show that configuration offers not only greater satisfaction with the resulting products (as compared with standard products), but also increases the satisfaction with the shopping process.
The following paper provides an in-depth look on the information systems enabling the configuration or co-design process. The special topic of Rosmary Stegmann, Thomas Leckner, Michael Koch and Johann Schlichter is how customers can be supported by such a system during their design task. While configuration systems enable customers to virtually assemble a product and find a fitting specification, customers must also learn how to deal with the complexity of the product model and of the configurator tool itself. Their paper introduces different approaches to overcome the problems of complexity and uncertainty associated with this customer tool interaction.
The implications of mass customization on business information systems, however, go beyond the implementation of configuration systems, as Andreas J. Dietrich, Stefan Kirn and Ingo J. Timm discuss in their paper. They analyze the impact of mass customization on future business information systems, with focus on globally distributed value chains. Using a case study from the footwear industry, the authors develop an innovative multiagent approach, which is using information represented with explicit machine-understandable semantics for coordinating and negotiating mass customization activities throughout the supply web.
The next contribution, co-authored by Jianxin Jiao, Lianfeng Zhang and Shaligram Pokharel, proposes an approach of process platform planning to support the variety synchronization from design to production. This is a basic principle of mass customization in order to reduce the internal variety of a product architecture and to create a stable solution space and stable processes, allowing for “mass production efficiency” as a main characteristic of mass customization. The authors show how a process platform is conducive to the synchronization of product and process variety.
Rebecca Duray supplements these insights about process planning for mass customization with her paper on the relation between a company’s capability of flexibility and quality and the financial performance. Her study tests within a sample of 126 mass customizing companies the tactical requirements of a mass customization strategy and finds that teamwork and worker flexibility lead to increased financial performance for mass customizers.
The paper by Thorsten Blecker, Nizar Abdelkafi, Bernd Kaluza and Gerhard Friedrich provides another contribution in regard to defining the processes of a mass customization system. Their analysis of flexibility capabilities of a mass customizer presents a number of key metrics to measure variety and complexity in operations and manu¬facturing related tasks. The result is an elaborated system to detect the levers that should be considered to keep variety induced complexity under control.
Moving from process to product structures, Udo Lindemann and Maik Maurer discuss the early evaluation of product properties for individualized products. They present a methodology for testing and evaluating product spectra and individual products with regard to lead time optimization. Recently, a number of design techniques have been developed to improve the design of custom-made products.
The paper by Janet K. Allen, Farrokh Mistree and Gabriel Hernandez strives to combine these techniques systematically, based on the formulation of the design of customizable products as a problem of optimal access in a geometric space. Their method is illustrated with the design of a line of custom-made hand exercisers.
The remaining papers of this issue deal with special issues of mass customization. Mikko Ruohonen, Jaakko Riihimaa and Marko Mäkipää present empirical insight generated from forty case companies in Finnish metal and electronics industries. Their results reveal four different clusters of mass customization strategies which can be also interpreted as knowledge-based business strategies, reinforcing the central role of knowledge management as a success factor of mass customization.
The development of rapid prototyping technologies into rapid manufacturing systems could become a main enabler for the efficient production of custom goods, as Christopher Tuck and Richard Hague discuss in their paper. The paper focuses on the effects regarding the logistics and supply chain infrastructure with the advent of rapid manufacturing.
Guixiu Qiao, Roberto F. Lu and Charles McLean discuss the manufacturing system planning for mass customization using a simulation model of component assembly line of Boeing aircrafts. Their focus is on the evaluation of information integration to derive a data-driven reconfigurable mass customization modeling methodology.
The issue’s final paper, contributed by Joachim Warschat, Mehmet Kürümlüogl and Rita Noestdal, provides an integrated perspective of the mass customization value chain. Based on the processes for marketing, sales, design, production and distribution, a case study from the footwear industry illustrates the demands of system and data integration along this process chain. The authors present an IT architecture to support an extended enterprise offering mass customized products.
Read the full abstracts of all papers here. You can also subscribe to this journal there.