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Towards Mass Customisation? The Implementation of Modern Manufacturing Concepts in the Flight Catering Industry.

Chang, Yevvon Yi-Chi. (2006) Towards Mass Customisation? The Implementation of Modern Manufacturing Concepts in the Flight Catering Industry. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Mass customisation (MC) is a manufacturing strategy that enables high volume production at low unit cost, while providing customised or personalised products or services. Flight caterers face the pressure of providing high volumes of meals each day, and the need to provide different menus for several different airlines at the same time. The concept of MC allows the high volume and high variety issues to be achieved with no trade-offs. To date, there are no existing published articles pertaining to MC in the flight catering business. Therefore, this study will be the first attempt to investigate the operational processes of the flight catering industry in relation to MC, and determines the MC mode for this industry. However, MC is a general concept which may include a number of dimensions such as labour flexibility, just-in time (JIT), modularity, lean production, and flexible/agile manufacturing strategies. Various factors are investigated in order to try to understand their relative contributions to improved efficiency. This study was carried out by means of a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches. In the exploratory study (Stage One), secondary data, on-site observations and interviews were adopted to conceptualise the nature of operations processes in flight catering. In particular, the specific MC mode adopted by this industry is found to be categorised as 'Mode E: flexible resource call-off MC', by comparing elements in relation to the five fundamental MC modes proposed by MacCarthy et al. (2003). For the main study, a quantitative approach was adopted using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to identify efficient and inefficient flight catering units in Phase I. Subsequently in Phase II, qualitative case studies on the efficient and inefficient units were developed to identify and understand important factors (inputs and outputs) in the operational process that have significant contribution to the performance of the flight catering industry. The findings from the main study have identified traits of MC in current flight catering operations. In particular, the finding has identified labour flexibility, the efficiency of alternative set-ups for tray assembly, the potential of JIT principles, the application of forecasting and material requirement planning, and the existence of modularity in a variety of forms, in flight catering operational practices. However, there was limited evidence that MC had been fully adopted. The most significant finding is that the flight catering industry does not operate on economies of scale. This was highly unexpected, as the most manufacturing plants in other industries operate based on the principle of economies of scale.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Chang, Yevvon Yi-Chi.
Date : 2006
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2006.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 30 Apr 2019 08:07
Last Modified : 20 Aug 2019 15:32

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