Build-to-Order & Mass Customization

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Implementing Build-to-Order and Mass Customization

Initial Implementation Steps

C Read the BTO articles on the "Articles" page and " Training for Build-to-Order & Mass Customization" below.

C Recommend the articles to others

C Print the articles and distribute them to others

C Contact Dr. Anderson, by calling or filling out the form below, to discuss the opportunities; there is no charge for this dialog.

Next Steps

C Read the book, Build-to-Order & Mass Customization.

C Meet with like-minded people to discuss the opportunities. Set up a conference call with Dr. Anderson to discuss the opportunities interactively; again there is no charge for this discussion.

C Use information from articles, books, and discussions to make proposals and presentations to raise awareness and get approval for investigations and programs

Research (these steps can be done before or after training)

C Identify relevant goals, such as growth for revenue and earnings, and related programs, such as lean production, lead-time reduction programs, and cost reduction initiatives

C Ascertain how well is the company meeting its goals and customer expectations

C Look up facts that will indicate applicability and eventually "sell the program," for instance, the number of different products (# SKUs), inventory levels, batch size and setup times (lowest, median, and highest), order fulfillment rates, obsolescence costs, forecast accuracy rates, and so forth.

C Ask around for indications of the need for change:

C Ask Sales and Marketing if customers are demanding faster delivery or would want customized products

C Ask Manufacturing about challenges building the current and anticipated product variety in batches based on forecasts

C Survey manufacturing people; ask then to list the products with the highest overhead demands; identify the worst and calculate how much it is losing money. Use this precedent to generate support for finding more and rationalizing the whole product line.

C Identify for products that have not been built in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years; propose these for Product Line Rationalization

C Add this data to discussions, presentations, and proposals

Build-to-Order and Mass Customization Training

     C Read the article "Training for Build-to-Order & Mass Customization" below.

C Call Dr. Anderson at 805-924-0100 or e-mail him at to discuss your training needs.  His seminar is described on the "BTO Seminar" page.

Build-to-Order and Mass Customization Implementation

C Schedule strategy workshops, facilitated by Dr. Anderson, to formulate business strategy and prepare the business case justifying mass customization of specials and the build-to-order of standard products. Output could be suitable for presentation to senior management and inclusion in strategic plans

C Schedule implementation workshops to prioritize and plan implementation steps for division strategies.

C Have Dr. Anderson work with implementation teams in on-going Build-to-Order and Mass Customization consulting

Call Dr. Anderson at 1-805-924-0100 to discuss implementing these techniques or e-mail him at with your name, title, company, phone, types of products, and needs/opportunities.

Training for Build-to-Order & Mass Customization

In general, training is a key enabler in successful manufacturing companies. For the 25 finalists in Industry Week’s annual Best Plants rating, 64.2% schedule 40 or more hours of training per employee annually compared to the average of 7.3% for all 2,511 manufacturers surveyed. The best plants scheduled almost nine times more training than the average plant!

For implementing something as broad as build-to-order and mass customization, training is an important early step. Some companies may be working on some elements, but they may be "islands of excellence" that may not be coordinated well with others or may not gel into coherent business model. Existing programs may not be going far enough: Lean programs may only be tackling the low-hanging-fruit and may only be reducing setup and batches, instead eliminating them where necessary for spontaneous build-to-order. Standardization efforts may not have been aggressive enough for the spontaneous resupply as outlined in Chapter 7 (Chapter and page references are for the book, Build-to-Order & Mass Customization.

In other cases, programs involving lean production and supply chain management may already be bogged down because they didn’t simplify operations and supply chains first with product line rationalization (Ch. 3), standardization (Chapters 4 and 5), automatic resupply (Ch. 7), and design for lean (Ch. 10).

Other companies may have neither implemented anything useful nor had any training, in which case training would help the most by showing them all that needs to be done in the context of a coherent business model.

The worst category would be companies that have done nothing except actions that are counterproductive to BTO&MC, like excessive outsourcing, manufacturing off-shore (Ch. 6), or low bidding to find cheap parts or pressure suppliers (Chapters 7 and 11).

The right training would need to be customized for the company’s products, operations, and culture, taking into account how much progress has been made in all the important activities. Although any motivated group could sponsor and arrange the training, the training itself should be given for all relevant functions and departments and corporate leadership. When Freudenberg-NOK implemented lean production, Joseph Day, Chairman and CEO, said, "We required our executives to be participants in the first wave in training. In that first wave we also had all our union executives."

A good facilitator would encourage discussions on all topics as they are presented to discuss how they would be applied and alleviate doubts and concerns. In addition to all the elements, such as rationalization, standardization, integration, spontaneous supply chains, on-demand lean production, training should show how these elements fit into an overall business strategy to achieve a viable business model.

Training should be presented by someone who is thoroughly familiar with all the relevant principles, has credibility and an open-minded perspective, and has enough experience to answer questions and engage the audience in discussions on how to apply these principles.

Call Dr. Anderson at 1-805-924-0100 to discuss implementing these techniques or e-mail him at with your name, title, company, phone, types of products, and needs/opportunities.

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