Reverse Blending, an intelligent design and production tool for continuous mass customization
Industrial revolution 4.0 has obtained great success in discrete production (objects...) by de- laying customization in units of production or assembly. Continuous production (granules, liquids...) is the forgotten part of this revolution due to the organization of production based on sequencing batches of different products, which makes challenging the efficient production of a wide variety of products. In response to this, a new product design and manufacturing approach, called Reverse Blending, is proposed to postpone the customization of fertilizers in small blending units implemented close to the final customer. This approach is based on searching for the optimal chemical composition of a reduced number of semi-finished common products whose possible combinations may satisfy a very large variety of customized finished products. This approach allows fertilizer producers - who aim to promote sustainable agriculture by delivering customized products - to make their supply chains smart and sustainable. Its potential is demonstrated through four case studies.