In my previous post on this blog I referred to a knowledge-exchange day about smart customization. An important consensus among representatives from industry was that external expertise is essential to migrate from traditional engineer-to-order to configure-to-order or “smart customization”.
Reasons for this insight vary from political power to “strange eyes” that can see beyond the “internal blindness of knowing”. I prefer to support the latter.
I can best compare this to my own experience with my two sons. For me they are completely different. They are 14 months separated in age, have different shade of blue in their eyes, have different interests and walk completely different. Nevertheless strange people confuse them easily or even ask “are they twins”.
A similar effect can be observed when (we) European Caucasian people look at Asian or African people. For us it it much harder to see subtile differences in them as in other Europeans.
I think this principle is also true for designers, engineers and sales people of customized products. They tend to see more differences than similarities. For them all products are purely unique.
Our challenge is to help these professionals to see and describe the commonalities in function, form and structure to enable optimization towards “intelligent customization”: design customizable products families that can be efficiently adopted to specific customer needs and manufactured accordingly. With this, companies can benefit from serial production efficiency and enjoy value from customized products.