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Batch Size One
Increasing consumer demand for personalization could lead to the mass
production of highly customized goods, resulting in decentralized ‘batch size one’
production. Manufacturers can leverage new technologies and business models
to bring the production process as close to the consumer as possible and reduce
lead times. Supply chains will need to accommodate changes in time and place of
production and integrate new postponement services.
In contrast to the common practice of offshoring manufacturing to countries such as
China, the ‘batch size one’ trend anticipates
that companies will establish micro-production
sites closer to demand such as near or within
megacities. Answering the need for product
hyper-customization and ever-faster delivery
times, these highly automated micro-production
sites will utilize cutting-edge robotics, automation
and 3D printing technologies to rapidly produce
personalized goods (e.g., Adidas Speed Factory).
Manufacturers will be able to react immediately
to location-dependent trends, and deliver goods
with shorter timeframes with first-movers
already testing this. Logistics providers must
design flexible and digitalized processes, revise
warehouse operations, and utilize new agile
delivery concepts to maximize operational
New warehouse hyper-customization
services will answer the future need for speed.
Warehouses will connect production with
logistics, offering extended postponement
services on behalf of customers. With 3D printing
and other mobile automation technologies,
logistics providers can take over final assembly
and/or product customization. They can also use
their global networks to customize stock and
deliver closer to the point of demand.
Inventory management and replenishment
for micro-production sites will need to be
carefully forecasted and managed in order to
keep just the right amount of stock in close
proximity to each site. This may increase the need
for flexible, multi-user warehouse environments in
order to improve geographical coverage of stock
and remain responsive to sudden fluctuations in
Agile ‘batch size one’ delivery concepts
are needed to manage the increasing number
of single orders and shorter delivery routes as
production becomes more decentralized and
moves closer to the customer. This may result
in more frequent deliveries from more loading
points. The use of on-demand logistics services
and last-mile robotics solutions designed for the
transport of small payloads could facilitate ‘batch
size one’ shipments.
Offers extended warehouse fulfillment service
opportunities (e.g., onsite 3D printing)
Achieves individualized product and service
offerings for the end customer
Builds customer loyalty through closer, more
direct end-customer relationships
Financial feasibility of ‘batch size one’
production is yet to be validated
Difficult to plan and implement logistics
processes in fast-changing environments
Complexity in managing supply chain
responsiveness and flexibility in last-mile
Redesigning the Textile and Apparel Supply Chain
– SEWBOT by SoftWear Automation
SEWBOT is a breakthrough robotics innovation that can automate the
highly complex and manual activity of apparel production
The solution is capable of producing a t-shirt within 26 seconds; its
planned use is localized manufacturing for some of the world’s largest
fashion retailers
Further developments in this technology may enable a leap from
localized mass production to ‘batch size one’ production of apparel
Source: SoftWear Automation
Trend Assessment
Timeframe: > 5 years
Impact: Medium
Sector Relevance: