The Factory in the Post-Industrial Era

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Alexander Tsigkas

The factory in the post-industrial era
Variety instead of Flexibility
Mass Customisation: the production system of the future
Alexander Tsigkas
Democritean University of Thrace
Department of Production Engineering and Management
Vas. Sofias 12, 67 100 Xanthi, Greece tsigas@vivodinet.gr,
WWW home page: http://www.duth.gr

Abstract. The world has become and it continues to become more complex as we move well into the 21th century. In this paper sociological-historical, technologicalindustrial and architectural aspects are addressed and combined to discuss the phenomenon of Mass Customisation as a paradigm shift, where its individual parts find their meaning and deep character only in this context. Only in this context Mass Customisation can be understood, otherwise it creates confusion. If the context changes, then traditional factories and organisations, based on the principles and the ideology implicit in the society of mass production, are out of focus. If Europe continues to base its policies and strategies on profit and cost only, as a single dimension problem, then refocusing is imminently needed, otherwise confusion will be increased and not lessened. Profit and cost mathematics are not enough and sufficient to describe a complex world. Based on Rechtin words that "profit is a matter of definition and cost is not an absolute", it looks as if the world is left to swing to its conventions of the 19th century economics and it is about to flop if refocus does not occur soon. In this new world the former East Europe, can play a very important role. This part of Europe should not try to copy habits and traditions of its counterparts in the West (only a euphemism) but to lead the needed transformation into a pluralist post-industrial era.

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Tsigkas AC (2006) The factory in the post-industrial era variety instead of flexibility, mass customization: the production system of the future. In: Second conference CE conference on mass customization and personalization, Rzeszow, Poland

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Alexander Tsigkas

1 Problem Statement and Overview
There seems to be an inherent contradiction on a discussion about factories in the post-industrial era. Nevertheless although there are more than 200 years past the 1st industrial revolution, it seems that not much has changed sin ce this time in the factories of today. In those places where time has so much value, factories look timeless. But does the term mass customisation not include also an inherent contradiction? Is it really a contradiction or a mirror of a changing society? If it is so, can traditional factories respond to the challenges that mass customisation is imposing? These questions need to be approached in a different context. Mass customisation is not simply the opposite of mass production, and is definitely not only production. It is an evolution of and simultaneously a revolution against the mass production society. It is argued that mass customisation is a paradigm shift [1] that is characterised from the transition of mass society of the industrial towards a more pluralistic society of the post-industrial era. In order to support this argument, the problem is examined in the context of four different aspects: sociological-historical, technological-industrial and architectural aspects. Within this framework customer-driven value creation [2] together with open innovation [3] can become the future model for reintegrating the consumer into the production system emerging in the post-industrial era. By integrating the consumer into the production loop, a new type of consumer is generated: the procumer, driving the transmutation of the mass consumer society towards a mass procumer society with quite different characteristics.

To defend the thesis of this paper, a quick examination of the structure of post-industrial society is given and why mass customisation is the new paradigm shift leading to a different more pluralistic society,...
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