Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing


Emcien Receives Second NSF Grant for Product Complexity Research

Emcien, Inc., which researching product complexity reduction and its impact on manufacturing companies, has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to support development and commercialization of techniques to address the challenges due to product complexity.

The NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.47 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards.

Emcien was awarded the grant through NSF’s Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation, which helps improve the competitiveness of the United States manufacturing base. The NSF grant will help to further Emcien’s research and support the commercialization of additional modules. Emcien is a privately held company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

The trend toward mass customization to meet customer demands has created a complex issue that manufacturing companies must address to remain competitive, notes Robert Springfield, a manufacturing specialist at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program.

“Mass customization and the unrelenting competitive pressure to increase customer-selected features and options is an enormous problem for manufacturing companies,” he said. “The complexity of large-scale customization results in raw material and finished goods inventory imbalances, order fulfillment problems and disruptions in supply chain. Emcien’s optimization technology deals with the core issue of what combinations of features and options will yield the best results.”

Springfield says more traditional approaches to the optimization problem strive only to improve the business processes that support mass customization.

“With a growing number of features and options, and shorter product lifecycles, companies are being proliferated to death,” explained Roy Marsten, Emcien’s Chief Scientist. “This proliferation costs companies 18 to 25 percent product margin.” He says that Emcien delivers a sustainable
solution for companies to manage and monitor this proliferation on a continuous basis.

“Building the right product configurations to meet customer needs is essential to competing in today’s marketplace,” Marsten added.

“Companies do not build Model T’s. To survive in the global market, manufacturing companies need solutions that can help manage their product variety, and react efficiently to changing feature/option demand,” he said. “We are honored that the NSF recognizes the importance of our mission to help manufacturing companies be more competitive.”

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One Response to “Emcien Receives Second NSF Grant for Product Complexity Research”

  1. John Morgan Says:

    90% of Fortune 500 companies have published product complexity and SKU rationalization initiatives in their top 10 strategic initiatives.
    Emcien is addressing a core challenge that all manufacturing companies face today. This is the next frontier for performance improvement.

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