Changing the Way of Manufacturing --- Approach to Realize Mass Customization Manufacturing

Guixiu Qiao and Charles McLean

Manufacturing Systems Integration Division, Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory

National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899

Roberto Lu

Commercial Airplanes Material and Process Technology

The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA 98124-2207


The emphasis on greater product variety and individualization has created a strong demand for a new strategy of Mass Customization Manufacturing (MCM), which has been addressed as the next industrial revolution in the 21st century. "Mass Customization bound to become an important part of industries, from car, furniture to apparel." (Bill Gates 2000)

The goal of MCM is to rapidly produce and deliver customized products while keeping costs at the mass-production level. This strategy brings radical changes to methods used to operate traditional manufacturing enterprises. It is changing the way customers make purchases, and has a strong impact on how products are made. A competitive and flexible manufacturing system must be developed to respond to small batches of customer demand. The key to successfully adjusting the manufacturing capability is to develop the capability of swiftly reconfiguring operations, processes, and business relationships with respect to customers’ individual needs and dynamic manufacturing requirements.

In this research, we developed an innovative approach in realizing and exercising MCM in theoretical and practical applications. Strategies of generalized production line platform and modularization are explored to support dynamic reconfigurations of MCM. A NIST developed neutral model of shop information, based on the eXtensible Markup Language, is used to describe the important information about the manufacturing facilities and processes, to configure simulation models and to exchange data between simulation and other manufacturing applications. Other than the traditional way to modify process parameters manually in discrete event simulation tools, this XML based simulation interface specification enables simulation practitioners to manage modeling exercises, such as model reuse, reconfiguration, and process data integration more proficiently. When demand changes, the simulation model can be quickly modified to perform analysis according to the new demand. Manufacturing capabilities and production processes can be adjusted, layout reconfigured, and resources reassigned according to the analysis results.

This methodology has been utilized in building the simulation model of a Boeing aircraft major component assembly line. This simulation model contains thirty complex processes on fourteen different machines. Most processes required different number of labors from various labor classes.

Presenting Author's information:

Guixiu Qiao
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division (826)

Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory
Building 220, Room A122
Mail Stop 8260
FAX: 301-258-9749
Sigma Xi member? No

Category:  Engineering