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This article is part of an ongoing series on the uses for artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing, starting with our article introducing machine learning and AI, and their relevance to manufacturing. This article will cover how AI can be used for mass customization, a key process in generating and retaining customers’ interest, in a manufacturing context. 

Specially Made, Just for You

The standard image of the manufacturing plant is one that is seen all the time on TV, and exists in the public consciousness, which is a long and repetitive process of the same item being made again and again in a seemingly endless and repetitive cycle. 

At the end of the process is a mass of indistinguishable objects, any one as good as the other. This happens day after day after day until, well, that perennially-duplicated is out of demand, and then the factory is dedicated to producing another indistinguishable item. 

Yet, walk into just about any store and survey the items on display, and you will find that this image cannot possibly be true. You will see, in that Bed Bath and Beyond, or whatever store you chose, that many items seem custom-tailored for certain customers. 

Take, for example, the classic keychain souvenir that you can find at just about any theme park or tourist trap. Typically, these keychains have many different names on each, and you might be wondering why there are plenty of keychains that have the name Wesley, but none with your own name. 

That is because of a process called mass customization, where businesses tailor their mass-produced products for a certain segment of their customers, ensuring that the many types of customers, existing and potential, are accounted for. 

Of course, AI can assist in this endeavor. 

Mass Customization and Machine Learning

AI requires data to make decisions, and the data that is most important for mass customization is internal data about your customers and external market data. 

Internal data about your customers can be used to create insights about your customer base. 

For example, if you are running a sportswear company, then it can pay to have an AI agent comb over your customers’ social media posts for evidence of the average body types, gender, preferred sports and physical activities, and other features characteristic of your customer base. 

In turn, you can adjust your manufacturing output to better fit your customer base. If many customers are fond of the color orange, than go ahead and produce more orange running shorts and cut back on the teal shorts, as that color was discovered to be less popular. 

Discovering these important insights about your customers is accomplished through a process called persona modeling, which collects that aforementioned internal and external data to create these actionable insights. 

Persona modeling is offered by Findability Sciences, and mass customization is just one among many activities that persona modeling can assist in. 

Why AI?

You may be wondering what difference there is between mass customization using human labor versus AI. The chief difference is that AI is extraordinarily adept at finding patterns across data sets that are too large for a human to sift through. 

When it comes to work like supply chain management, there is so much useful data that often goes unused by manufacturers who would trust gut decisions rather than high quality data analysis performed by tireless and incredibly efficient AI agents.

When AI is leveraged, you get more accurate predictions, such as whether your customers will respond to neon-colored running shoes or more muted, grey models. Even if you are not in the sportswear industry, we guarantee that your manufacturing process often involves the production of unique, custom items that are designed to fit a certain segment of customers, appeal to them. 

No matter what you are manufacturing, you are guaranteed to benefit from the AI-powered services offered by Findability Sciences, including persona modeling. When it comes to mass customization, the most important thing to know is what customers want and like, and Findability Sciences specializes in AI systems that can discover what your many unique customers like. 

Previous Articles in Our Machine Learning for Manufacturers Series: