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Megatrend: Customization

With prosperity on the rise the world over, individual fulfillment and the freedom of the individual are growing in importance. The trend towards customization is also having a significant impact on consumer behavior. It is no longer possible to satisfy individual customer requests with traditional mass production and, as such, innovative approaches to production are required.

Customized mass production

To satisfy individual customer requests while remaining cost-efficient, it is essential that companies develop customer-focused business models and employ intelligent, versatile production technologies.

Maintaining overall plant efficiency is the objective of customer-oriented mass production (mass customization). The critical factors of availability, performance and quality must not drop to a level lower than that of normal series production. In addition, an attractive return on investment and the quickest possible time to market for new products and product variants must be ensured.

The key to this lies in establishing high levels of standardization and automation which also provides scope for variations on customer-relevant product features. What’s more, the concept of modularization, which gives customers the opportunity to configure products on the basis of a modular system, is a cost-efficient way of satisfying individual customer requests in high quantities and with a high level of quality.

Mass customization: an efficient alternative to mass or single item production.

Industrial Internet of Things and Smart Production

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) makes it possible to manufacture high-quality customized components and single items in a profitable manner. This approach sees traditional production systems replaced by smart factories in which production processes can be adapted smoothly and at short notice.

In Matrix Production, a concept developed by KUKA, intelligent automation solutions and a networked process chain pave the way for extremely versatile production processes on an industrial scale. Entire production systems and individual machines and robots can be converted ad hoc to accommodate different product types – without waiting times or production downtime. It will thus become possible to implement the manufacture of small-batch series, modules and individual parts in the context of industrial mass customization.

SFaaS: Smart Factory as a Service

In fact, the concept goes a step further than this: scalable, fully automatic and adaptable production capacity can be booked as a service at a variable cost. In this way, new product variants can be manufactured quickly, flexibly and with little risk, according to demand.

KUKA can already offer insight into the Smart Factory as a Service concept. Together with its cooperation partners MHP and Munich Re, KUKA operates a prototype of the smart factory in Munich, Germany. The site is available to interested parties for the purposes of company events, seminars and specialist presentations.

The Smart Factory as a Service concept paves the way for flexible production processes.