1. Introduction

The technology used by any industry, including custom manufacturing changes with time, and the latest change being adopted by industries around the world is Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is all about digitalization, integration, and interconnecting all the resources and systems of the industry. In a nutshell, it is about creating a smart factory.

This article discusses the impacts of the digital revolution on custom manufacturing, custom manufacturing works, and custom manufacturing service.

What is custom manufacturing?

Custom manufacturing is different from traditional manufacturing and it involves designing, engineering, and producing a single or a small batch of a unit to satisfy the specific requirements of a single customer. The custom manufactured unit can be a product or an item like fabrication, casting, etc. It can be a repair and refurbishing of an existing product also. The setup of a custom manufacturing works is different from traditional manufacturing.

Advantages of custom manufacturing:

  • The product has customer demand (order) and there is no financial risk.
  • Drastic reduction in marketing expenses and storage costs.
  • Customer involvement throughout the product manufacturing cycle builds customer loyalty.
  • Interaction with the customers gives valuable input and feedback.

One disadvantage of a custom-manufactured unit is that it is not off the shelf.

Custom manufacturing works can be of two types:

  • B2B (between two businesses).
  • B2C (between the business and the customer (consumer)).

B2B (between two businesses): The B2B customers are manufacturers producing products for another business or consumer goods. B2B customers are not happy with the standard product available for many reasons including (i) the product has features that are not required, (ii) the product does not have specific features required, and they come to the custom manufacturing works for products as per their specifications.

Other businesses a B2B custom manufacturing works can expect are repair and refurbishing of an existing product, the building of a prototype and its trial run, etc.

B2C (between the business and the consumer): Today consumers are not happy with the standard products and want something unique (personalized) when they purchase a smartphone, laptop, motorcycle, passenger car, etc.

If you consider a motorcycle, the personalization is normally limited to the color, seat style and height, fuel tank design, and similar features, however, the basic design of the motorcycle will not change. This is called customization of a product and today many consumer goods manufacturers allow their customers to exercise limited customization.

The B2C customization of products is very popular in categories like apparel and footwear.

Traditional manufacturers may offer more and more customization of consumer products in the coming days.

Small-scale custom manufacturing works: These custom manufacturing works may have specialized in the custom manufacturing of one or two of the following

(i)precision CNC machine parts

(ii) castings

(iii) forgings

(iv) sheet metal fabrications

(v) heavy fabrication

(vi) investment castings

(vii) heat treatment

(viii) on-site services and the list can go on.

They can directly take customer orders for execution and also help large custom manufacturing works by supplying custom-made parts required by them.

Custom manufacturing service: There are custom manufacturing service providers between the large and small-scale custom manufacturing works to bridge the gap between them. They will have a data bank of different custom manufacturing works and their capabilities.

Why custom manufacturing is the future?

Reasons why custom manufacturing is the future?

  • Traditional manufacturers mass-produce consumer products and hope to sell them. However, things do not always go as planned, and the products may remain in the warehouse or they are sold at discounted prices. Companies that do not judge consumer taste may end up in losses and close down.
  • Young B2C consumers are not satisfied with what is available off the shelf, and they want some unique features to express their personalities.
  • B2B customers are not happy with the standard products and they want a custom product that makes their business more productive and efficient.
  • Some businesses and individuals design prototypes and want custom manufacturing works to help produce them.
  • Companies are shifting from traditional manufacturing to custom manufacturing due to its huge advantages to the manufacturer as well as the customer, and it is a win-win situation.

In such a scenario, custom manufacturing is a better option.

What are the impacts of the digital revolution on custom manufacturing?

The industry revolution 4.0 has brought in many digital technologies including digital integration of all the manufacturer resources, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), 3D printing, cloud computing, internet of things, and changed the way companies (including custom manufacturing) work and interact with their customers and vendors.

Distance is no more a barrier since a customer in one place can set up virtual meetings with custom manufacturing works in any part of the world and place an order on them. So, custom manufacturing works can face the threat of losing customers if they do not adopt the latest technologies.

On the positive side, custom manufacturing works can adopt digital technology and widen their area of operation. Digital technology has opened up numerous choices both for the customer as well as the custom manufacturing works.

Digital integration of all the resources of a custom manufacturing works makes the system efficient, and agile and leads to better management of resources.

Modern technologies like additive manufacturing (3D printing), CNC machining facilities, CAD, and CAM, are of immense help to custom manufacturing works.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Custom Manufacturing?

Challenges of custom manufacturing are:

  • Manufacturing of a product or a part in a single or few numbers batch.
  • The scope can include design, and engineering also, apart from manufacturing.
  • Customers are highly demanding in terms of quality, price, and delivery time.

Custom manufacturing works can overcome the challenges by doing the following:

  • Use a custom-made platform.
  • Adopt digital technology.
  • Develop a reliable and committed supply chain. You cannot custom manufacture a product completely at your work.
  • Make use of established custom manufacturing service providers.
  • Build quality into the process and never compromise with quality.
  • Make effective use of modern technologies like VR, AR, additive manufacturing, CNC machining facilities, CAD, CAM, etc.
  • Eliminate all kinds of waste, to optimize the product cost.

Custom manufacturing guide:

This is not a comprehensive custom manufacturing guide, however, the following suggestions for new custom manufacturing works can be part of such a guide.

  • Install a custom-made platform.
  • Adopt modern technologies.
  • There are custom manufacturing service providers who can make your business easy. They have the resources to convert your CAD design data effortlessly into physical products.
  • Custom manufacturing service providers help you to outsource custom parts like (i)precision CNC machine parts (ii) castings (iii) forgings (iv) sheet metal fabrications (v) heavy fabrication (vi) investment castings (vii) heat treatment (viii) on-site services and the list can go on.

The advantages of using the services of a custom manufacturing service provider are:

  • Low overheads, consistency in quality, predictable delivery, and you can have full visibility and control.
  • Helps you to centralize your procurement data, compare the quotations, manage your vendors, and live tracking orders.
  • Reduces your workload to a great extent and you can concentrate on strategic decisions.

Vendosmart is one of the well-established custom manufacturing service providers and your one-stop manufacturing shop.

The alternative to hiring a custom manufacturing service provider is to develop and establish a reliable and committed supply chain and this cannot happen overnight.

Custom Manufacturing can become a highly competitive business since more and more manufacturers jump in and the only way custom manufacturing works can create profit is to make the costing process perfect and eliminate all the waste.

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