In response to increasing demand for a fully customized and individualized home environment, mass customization (MC) has been suggested as an effective strategy to fulfill the customer’s customization needs while keeping production cost-effectiveness. However, in current practice, the implementation of the MC in the industrialized housing industry has not achieved an ideal level. Little effort was devoted to customer value generation and achieving lean production in a multi-disciplinary MC environment. In this concern, a highly efficient and flexible production information system is expected to capture accurately the customer’s demand and efficiently perform work planning for encouraging customer involvement and mass efficiency production.
To gain an insight into the development of the MC production information system for the housing industry and to depict the interaction among system modules, this study used a design science research methodology for a case study of customized cabinet production information system development.
A prototype of the production information system was proposed in this paper, supported by three information technologies to facilitate the MC implementation in the millwork manufacturer. A focus group discussion method was carried out for evaluating the system feasibility and the subsequent survey analysis on the virtual reality (VR) interface experiment. The evaluation process results showed that the VR interface is an effective medium for design information communication and encourages customer involvement. Most participants believed that the proposed production information system could generally benefit the MC implementation and improve production efficiency.
This study integrated lean production principles along with building information modelling, VR and discrete-event simulation in the production information system to assist the manufacturer in effectively handling variant product information and enabling quicker reactions in response to diverse customer requirements in housing industries. The coordination among system modules and the managed information flow could be a valuable reference for future MC production system development in housing industries.
The authors would like to thank the following two grants, the Alberta Innovates Graduate Student Scholarship by Alberta Innovates and Alberta Advanced Education and the Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2019-04585) by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this research are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Alberta Innovates.
Zhang, Y., Wang, J., Ahmad, R. and Li, X. (2022), "Integrating lean production strategies, virtual reality technique and building information modeling method for mass customization in cabinet manufacturing", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 29 No. 10, pp. 3970-3996. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-11-2020-0955
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