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The complexity of mass customization systems under different inventory strategies

Efstathiou, Janet and Zhang, Ting (2006) The complexity of mass customization systems under different inventory strategies. International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, 19 (5). pp. 423-433.


We present a methodology for calculating the information-theoretic complexity of a mass customization (MC) manufacturing system, under various inventory management strategies, and identify the parameters of the whole system that are likely to be the most significant in determining overall system complexity. We apply the methods of the information-theoretic complexity calculation, which provides a generic method for objectively comparing different kinds of system. We present a model of the structure of a mass customizing system, as composed of a push line and a pull line, decoupled by inventory of semi-finished variants. We calculate the information-theoretic complexity of the entire system, and show that the inventory is the main source of complexity in a mass customizing system. We then focus on the impact of different strategies for managing the inventory as methods to reduce complexity. We point out the factors that affect inventory complexity most significantly are the number of stock locations and the number of variants that may be stored there, although the number of stock locations is the more significant of the two. These results can guide the designers and managers of mass customization systems on the system structures that are most likely to have less management overhead, because of the reduced amount of information that is required to know the state of the system.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Complexity; Inventory location; Inventory strategies; Mass customization
Subject(s): Complexity
Project management
Operations management
Centre: CABDyN Complexity Centre
BT Centre for Major Programme Management
Faculty of Operations Management
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 20:14
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:07

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