Current Technology and Industry Challenges
The need to be unique in a globalized society drives the growing demand of customized goods. Industry is facing today a huge challenge to find efficient ways for mass customization.
To enable customers to choose different options for a product and to create their own configuration (weather is a made-to-measure shirt or a sofa set), designers must develop variants of models (styles or designs) in their CAD applications. The number of such variants depends on the number of options available and it grows fast because it is obtained by multiplying all options. It is a common fact to have hundreds of such variants created and stored for each product. The labor of creating and maintaining these variants, as well as storing and managing them is very high. Adding a simple option to the model, like “Do you want round or square back cushion”, means to double the number of variants.
Gemini CAD Systems proposes a complete new approach on this problem. Instead of storing hundreds of variants, the CAD projects contain now the list of options (Questions to ask), answers (possible alternatives to choose) and actions (things to do on the model if an answer is chosen). The CAD system will no longer create hundreds of pre-configured variants but instead it will create on spot the needed variant, based on the answers provided by the customer.
How It Works ?
Let’s ignore computers for a minute. If a customer is in front of a tailor, ordering a shirt, the dialog is based on a series of questions and possible answers suggested by the tailor, among which the customer will choose the one he likes. The tailor also offers explanations, perhaps will illustrate the options with pictures or samples, he may also advise the customer on what is ok or not, and will ask other questions depending on previous answers. Take a step forward and see this is actually the way a web online boutique selling such products works too. For a custom-made suit or for the new leather furniture for the livingroom, the e-commerce system is all based on a structured dialog consisting of questions and possible answers, followed by actions.
So, all Gemini CAD Systems had to do was to create a platform on which the designer of the product can edit the full scenario containing all the questions and all the possible answers, to define what actions to take (usually to add or remove patterns from the cut set) depending on the answers. For each question or answer, the designer can add graphic content and explanations, advices for the customer or different rules and conditions when a question is valid to ask or an answer should be in the available list.
How Will the Customer Actually Choose His Options?
Gemini Style Selector mimics exactly the dialog between the customer and the tailor or, even more, it mimics the interaction between the customer and any online shop for customized products. This enables to use the content edited in Gemini Style Selector for automatically generating the HTML content for product webpages, ready to be posted and used on e-commerce website. Or to generate XML structured content to be used in other platforms. Or, for a more traditional approach, to simply print a Dialogue Guide to facilitate the interaction between the seller in the shop and the customer who steps in to order a sofa. The data collected through any such channel comes back to Gemini CAD platform and the appropriate customized model is generated automatically.
What Are the Benefits?
The huge pile of pre-defined variants is no longer needed. When the designer wants to add a new option, he will just add a new question in the list, with its possible answers among which the customer will choose.
Publishing or updating a customizable product on an e-commerce website is possible directly, without any need for web-programming, by generating directly the interactive web page from Gemini Style Selector. The cost and time for these operations are reduced dramatically.
The integration with ERP is easy, as the entire Style Selector structure of questions, answers and additional information can be exported and used on other platforms.
Even more, the complete automatization of the process allows to obtain real time cost calculation and to manage also the flow of information for associated manufacturing processes, such as wood work for sofa, accessories or packaging.