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Manufacturing companies are under pressure to find ways to customize their products quickly, and a new approach to an old idea holonics might provide the answer. A holon is a self-organizing unit that can communicate with other holons and make decisions autonomously. A holon both comprises subordinate parts and constitutes part of a larger system. Scientists interested in the holon's autonomous, cooperative, and self-configuring characteristics are researching ways to create distributed systems that can change manufacturing processes on the fly, manage systems robustly, and handle unpredictable processing requests and inputs.