Panels & Furniture Asia Jul/Aug 2020

July / August 2020, Issue 4 | Panels & Furniture Asia 34 | FURNITURE MANUFACTURING Marc Pfetzing, Senior Consultant at Schuler Consulting Wolfgang Neeser, Managing Director of HOMAG Asia Ridwan Aziz, Country Manager of HOMAG Indonesia Kelvin Kwek, Director of OPSH Demystifying the path towards Batch Size 1 Production By Szeto Hiu Yan In our world today, customisationmatters. From shoes to cars, consumers desire to own products that are theirs and theirs only. Be it embossing a name on a pair of new sports shoes or choosing the colour and finishing of a new car, mass customisation has made owning unique products possible for consumers. The same goes for furniture. The era of customised manufacturing or batch size 1 production in the furniture industry has arrived, but are furniture manufacturers in South East Asia ready? I ndustry 4.0 is taking industries by storm. New systems, software and processes are introduced and “islands of automation” are replacedwith seamless, automated manufacturing lines that can reduce waste and increase material yield, improve quality and throughput, and ultimately achieve optimal efficiency. unique, consumers are hungry for more custom choices to fit their personal tasteand livingsituation. This creates the demand formorecustomisedproducts in smaller batches; • The growing affluency in developing countries also means that markets are opening up to higher-priced products manufactured using the batch size 1 method. “In the last 10 years, Europe’s furniture manufacturing industry was the only market where batch size 1 production is financially viable. Batch size 1 production was only possible because there were niche manufacturers who could bear the incredibly high investment costs while being able to sell the products at a higher price. The batch size 1 production goes hand-in-handwith the selling price and the investment of themanufacturer,” explained Pfetzing. DEFINING BATCH SIZE 1 IN ASIA For now, batch size 1 production in Asia does not refer to an absolute batch size 1, according to Pfetzing. “In this region, it is really nearly impossible to have a 100% batch size 1 production, unless the factory is only manufacturing two different products. So far, we have managed to get our customers to reduce their batch sizes but not to an absolute batch size 1. So even if a factory is now producing a batch size 10 or batch size 20, I will call it a batch size 1 factory.” Industry 4.0 has also opened the door to batch size 1 production, a new way of production that drives flexibility in manufacturing. How has batch size 1 production changed the global furniture manufacturing landscape and how prevalent is batch size 1 production in Asia and South East Asia (SEA)? Are furniture manufacturers ready for batch size 1 production? What are the main considerations and potential pain points to take note of when furniture manufacturers are transforming their businesses? PFA seeks the answers fromseveral experts in the industry. BATCH SIZE 1 PRODUCTION WILL BECOME A GLOBAL TREND “The batch size 1 trend started in Europe more than10years agoandhas slowly over the past few years become a predominant way of production in the United States (US) as well. It has been a long process but it is finally happening now,” said Marc Pfetzing, senior consultant at Schuler Consulting. Three reasons why batch size 1 is becoming a global trend: • Technology has finally caught up. New and better equipment, automation and software make batch size 1 production a truly competitive manufacturing option; • Consumers’ tastes have changed. Driven by individualism and the desire to be