The whole world is going custom. More and more people are looking for that personalized touch in both products and experiences. Everyone is different – different tastes, preferences, and needs. And businesses have been taking notice.
That’s not to say that customization is new to the world of manufacturing. Engineer-to-order, made-to-order, and assemble-to-order manufacturing modes have been part of the business-to-business (B2B) manufacturing sector for a long time. A certain level of customization is needed to allow the production of specialized products or slightly customized vehicles, for example. However, traditionally, the approach of general manufacturing has always been to produce large quantities of identical goods to make them affordable and accessible to the global market.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned, consumers are no longer satisfied with buying products that everyone else is enjoying. They want something that calls to their individuality. Products that have been made to their specifications to meet their specific needs. This demand for customization has greatly impacted manufacturers in the business-to-customer (B2C) space in more ways than one.
Traditional Manufacturing is Risky
As we’ve already mentioned, the traditional approach to manufacturing is the mass production of identical consumer goods. This allows the company to lower the cost of production which makes the product more appealing to customers while allowing the company to still profit.
Of course, this approach carries with it some risk since you’re basing your production on a prediction of future demand. If the demand for the product is less than that of the supply, the business may have to sell the products without making a profit at all. Or worse, have to scrap the product altogether which means a lot of waste that will impact the environment. This kind of situation is nothing new. A lot of businesses have created millions of products that were unsuccessful upon their launch in the market (hello, Google Glass) which meant a great deal of money lost and material wastage created.
What is Custom Manufacturing?
Custom manufacturing is quite different from traditional or general manufacturing. It is a process of designing and producing a unique product that has been tailored specifically for a single customer. Unlike the traditional approach, the production of goods is based on current, genuine demand instead of a nebulous idea of future demand.
This process allows for short production runs, creating build-to-order parts or one-offs when ordered. And because only small quantities are produced, customers can receive their orders in the shortest amount of time possible.
What does this mean for the business? Several things actually.
- First of all, it helps ensure that all manufactured products have a buyer. The business won’t be manufacturing goods that nobody wants to buy. There will be less of a financial risk and it will help lower material wastage.
- Second, custom manufacturing eliminates the need for aggressive marketing, trying to get everyone to buy your product and make a profit. This kind of practice can easily cost a business large amounts of money.
- Third, consumers are now part creators. Because of the rising demand for personalization and customization, consumers are becoming more engaged in the creation of products. They are no longer passive recipients of a product; they are active participants. By allowing them to customize your product, you add more value to it. And when customers receive good value, they’re more likely to feel loyal to your brand. Their loyalty will ensure that they keep coming back. It will also help generate more customers. Moreover, it will help your business stand out in a highly competitive market.
- Fourth, custom manufacturing gives businesses insight into their customers. Letting customers get involved in product design will allow manufacturers to gather critical information regarding their requirements, preferences, and purchasing behavior. This data will help give them valuable insight on how they can improve their existing products as well as what future products would appeal to their market.
The Future of Manufacturing
Over the years, there has been a fundamental shift from traditional manufacturing to custom manufacturing. And it’s easy to see why. The benefits are many, leading many manufacturers to build to order instead of building to stock. Plus, the continued advancements in technology such as custom 3D printing has lowered the barriers to entry, enabling more small-scale local manufacturing companies to become more competitive. The factory of the future will no longer be made of assembly lines. It will be filled with smart, automated assembly workstations capable of flexibility in production.
About the author: Louisa is a content marketing professional and editor creating her successful career past 2 years at D3D Printing. She is a goal-oriented, creative individual with a unique voice in writing, editing, and optimizing content for various projects. She’s a devoted mom and an excellent piano player.