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How Small and Medium Enterprises Effectively Participate in the Mass Customization Game

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5 Author(s)
Ismail, H. ; Manage. Sch., Liverpool Univ. ; Reid, I. ; Mooney, J. ; Poolton, J.
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It is increasingly more evident that mass customization (MC) has become a key strategy for those companies operating in markets where offering customers more choice is the only remaining differentiator. However, the impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is not always clear as the resources required to implement such a strategy in an SME often falls beyond what is considered to be acceptable risk. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issue of whether SMEs truly know how to effectively operate in an environment driven by customization. This paper introduces and demonstrates, through two case studies, how the principles of MC have been adopted by SMEs within the context of manufacturing agility and product flexibility. The paper explores the issues of product configuration, component similarity and the set of tools and measures of performance developed to steer the MC implementation process. The paper examines how the reuse of common components in product families can reduce internal variety. Coefficients that measure the similarity of products within a family are presented. These consider the factors of product structure, cost, volume and contribution. The "product-component matrix" is introduced to represent product families and calculate the similarity coefficients

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Engineering Management, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:54 ,  Issue: 1 )