Lot-Size-One is bigger than what you might think!
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
The eFactory project is developing a connected factory platform for agile manufacturing. Agile manufacturing typically relies on the setup, operations and management of ad-hoc value networks where manufacturing and delivery of innovative products is carried out with a high degree of personalisation. The specific focus of eFactory platform on lot-size-one manufacturing necessitates the proper definition and understanding of what entails Lot-Size-One (LSO).
LSO sounds a bit strange to many, but it is key and distinguishing concept of Industry 4.0. The eFactory partners representing different stakeholders in the manufacturing value-chain agree that ‘LSO is a highly customised product to such an extent that it is (almost) unique’. In many cases, LSO is derived from a base product that goes through several alterations to make it unique. In other cases, the uniqueness is not a matter of customisation, the production is based on demand so the it is unique per customer.
Industry 4.0 takes customisation to the next level by tuning each product to the individual customer's specifications. The robust methods and processes for manufacturing LSO products are not fully developed or deployed. A focus group study in the eFactory project highlighted that there are several challenges for LSO manufacturing. Some of the key challenges are related to finding relevant partners, process design, coordination of supply chain activities and ensuring that cost, time and quality constraints are satisfied. The solution to these challenges lies in technological innovations as well as new approaches for collaborations, supply chain management and fine-grained control over production activities.
The technology support and innovative approaches put together in the eFactory project focus on scaling from LSO product to LSO industry where novel and robust manufacturing processes efficiently support the production on a large scale of unique products. The support for LSO industry will come from wider and cross-sectorial collaborations e.g. exposing manufacturers to potential customers in other sectors thus widening the customer base of LSO product.
Enabling/supporting agile collaborations is one of the key features in the eFactory project. Some of the key features of the eFactory platform, such as matchmaking, team-formation, smart contracting, process orchestration and data analytics, are specifically designed to support supply chain activities, extraction of useful information from production processes and enabling the use of this information to develop personalised and customised end‑products of the future. In this respect, eFactory is a lot more than just a digital manufacturing platform. It is a platform for supporting lot-size-one manufacturing that has the potential to change existing business models, manufacturing methods and the map of global commerce.