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Implementing Mass Customization

Mass customization enables manufacturers to deliver customized products to customers while keeping production costs low. To accomplish this, custom customer orders are intelligently integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems or other smart applications, and mapped with the inventory system so upstream materials can be ordered if necessary. These systems and applications will then connect to the Advanced Planning & Scheduling System (APS) and MES/SCADA systems to initiate standardization, mass production, custom production, and mixed model production.

Mass customization is achieved through smart production lines comprised of several heterogeneous smart machines to support both standardized and customized products. An increasing amount of manufacturers today need this flexibility to adjust to changing customer requirements and custom orders. OEM operators can meet these business demands by transitioning their equipment to smart machines to adapt to the complex production models.

By connecting factory equipment to smart sensors, PLC/edge computer and the MES (Manufacturing Execution System), shop floor equipment can download user/OEM developed programs to execute intelligent procedures according to the automated changeover commands. This results in minimal breaks in the production process so business can continue.

An example of how this works is explained in the following diagram. Serial device servers and wired/wireless industrial networking devices can be connected to factory equipment to extract data such as product ID. Then, networking hardware such as wireless access points and Ethernet switches are applied to transmit the information over to your MES/DNC (Direct Numerical Control) server. The MES/DNC sends changeover commands and G-Codes over the network to each connected factory machine. This process allows CNC machines and robots to download more information to become adaptive smart machines and carry out their jobs effectively. 



An adaptive smart machine can perform changeovers on the fly, and reconfigure itself with different production modules on the same base machine platform. It can adapt to constant size and format changes to reduce system downtime and increase production efficiency. By enabling this adaptive intelligence, production lines remain operational and continue to produce the next order. However, in a mixed production scenario, the MES must handle more coordination commands with limited computing capability. To alleviate this extra load, edge computers play an important role because they can handle partial decision making (of the production loop) of the MES. Edge computers reduce the communication latency and any risks to production stops, by autonomously running the entire production processes of the loop in case the MES connection drops off.

For a deeper dive, use the form on this page to download our application guide, which covers the details of mass customization and what setting up one of these systems is comprised of.

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