Delayed Differentiation, Postponement

This report will talk about concerning the Postponement additionally know as Delayed Differentiation. How and why Postponement is utilized by organisation in manufacturing or manufacturing. Additionally consists of, which method has been utilized and what are the advantages and issues may come up whereas utilizing their software.

Postponement is extensively used within the automotive, attire, and shopper electronics industries. Many corporations produce merchandise which can be candidates for postponement however are unlikely to endure the implementation modifications essential to assist it. This thesis highlights a few of the main corporations who're pioneers of postponement and consists of case research of extra corporations who've adopted their lead. They've seen the tangible advantages of decrease stock prices, faster response time, higher forecasts, and extra selection in addition to the intangible advantages of higher customer support and the coordination and integration of producing, gross sales, and advertising and marketing features.

What's Postponement or Delayed Differentiation?

A postponement technique goals at delaying some provide chain actions till buyer demand is revealed so as to preserve each low system large value and quick response.

Postponement was initially launched within the advertising and marketing literature by Alderson in 1950. Fifteen years later, Bucklin prolonged and analysed it within the context of shifting danger. Since that point, little consideration was paid to this idea till a few decade in the past. Now postponement has change into a advertising and marketing, manufacturing and logistics enterprise idea and has been utilized via the entire provide chain. Grew to become fashionable since 1990s (Lee, van Hoek and Yang). (Biao Yang and Neil Burns)

Determine 1: A Provide Chain

What are the forms of Postponement?

There are 4 main forms of Postponement as follows:-

three.1 Buying postponement

Delay buying of some costly and fragile supplies.

Determine 2

three.2 Manufacturing Postponement

Merchandise in semi-finished kinds and will be custom-made rapidly in manufacturing amenities.

Determine three

three.three Logistics Postponement

Merchandise in semi-finished kinds and will be custom-made rapidly in manufacturing amenities near clients.

Determine four

three.four Time Postponement

Completed merchandise are saved in central location and are distributed rapidly to clients.

Determine 5

There are additionally different Postponement methods equivalent to Product improvement postponement, Value postponement, Postponement of passage of title, Demand postponement.

Why utilizing a postponement or Delayed Differentiation?

Scale back stock value

Scale back transportation value

Scale back danger of obsolescence

Scale back demand variability

Enhance competitiveness by providing custom-made merchandise rapidly Postponement is seen as a significant aspect in any agile technique and a strong technique to cut back and management demand variability. It enhances the flexibility of the corporate to compete on time whereas remaining value aggressive. “Postponement will increase the corporate’s flexibility to answer modifications within the mixture of calls for from completely different market segments. The corporate can enhance its responsiveness to orders or scale back its funding in stock”. By using postponement and mixing it with a holistic view, some corporations have managed to enhance the efficiency of the provision chain. (Biao Yang and Neil Burns)

How a postponement works?


Excessive product selection

Modular and standardized product design

Versatile manufacturing system

Actual time data and communication

Quick response logistics

Strategic provider relationship

Delaying operations related to configuration and transport, like labelling and packaging, is probably the most distinguished software of postponement largely via logistics nowadays. Retailers are more and more discovered to course of some postponed operations (often the ultimate type). Even clients can configure the product by themselves once they have obtained it. (Biao Yang and Neil Burns)

A lot analysis has been accomplished on product and manufacturing course of for delaying operations. For instance, corporations can (re-) design merchandise and processes in such a manner that corporations can maintain merchandise within the semi-finished state and remaining assemblies are delayed till clients’ orders are obtained. (Biao Yang and Neil Burns)

As well as, corporations can not ignore bottlenecks within the construction of the routing. It is likely to be problematic to postpone some operations to be accomplished on a bottleneck capability. Additionally when utilisation of the manufacturing system is excessive, the worth of postponement is low. (Biao Yang and Neil Burns)


6.1 Firm Overview

Imation is US primarily based firm, a world chief within the detachable knowledge storage machine trade. Their business product line consists of CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, cassettes, knowledge cartridges, and USB flash units. In addition they focus on high-end tape storage units that are utilized by banks and monetary establishments to retailer knowledge, monetary data, and insurance coverage data. Imation serves all the main workplace provide retailers equivalent to Workplace Depot, Workplace Maxx, Staples, and Greatest Purchase in addition to shopper product retailers like Wal-Mart and Goal.

6.2 Implementation of Postponement

Imation is a major case research for postponement as a result of it makes use of this technique in a number of methods to maximise effectivity and suppleness all through the provision chain. In 2001 knowledge storage units had been turning into a commodity and Imation began in search of methods to distinguish inside their provide chain. Moreover, the trade was plagued with lengthy lead occasions, worth erosion, and quick product life cycles of three months or much less. With a mean complete product lead time (from manufacturing to distribution) of 100 days, the corporate knew it wanted to seek out methods to streamline its operations. Gillette’s packaging technique grew to become the mannequin from which Imation constructed its personal postponement technique. Along with packaging, Imation realized that there was additionally worth added in customizing merchandise for a few of its smaller clients. Due to this fact, in addition they appeared into methods to postpone throughout the meeting course of for each their excessive and low-end merchandise.

Imation’s provide chain could be very decentralized with the principle headquarters situated in Oakdale, MN. Earlier than postponement was carried out suppliers in Asia would manufacture the units, a course of that took wherever from 30-45 days relying on the time of the month. The merchandise had been packaged on the level of producing, positioned in stock, and shipped direct to clients. This course of often took between 40-50 days bringing complete product lead time to 100 days. It was the belief of lengthy product lead time coupled with quick life cycles and worth erosion that lead Imation to contemplate various strategies for manufacturing and distributing their merchandise.

A number of modifications had been made to facilitate the transition to postponement. Imation started utilizing suppliers in India as an alternative of Asia regardless of the longer transit time to the US. “It was capability together with value and so they [India] had been additionally evolving the velocity of their operations in order that they may get the upper margins” [30]. It is a sign that reveals how offshore producers are starting to compete for US manufacturing jobs by making an attempt to supply quicker turnaround – a supply of aggressive benefit for native producers.

A part of the issue in selecting and holding suppliers additionally needed to do with taking away the worth added step from the suppliers and requiring them to vary the product design. “They wish to be concerned within the worth added half as a result of they most likely generate extra worth for themselves…The second challenge is that it's worthwhile to get them to revamp the product and the way in which it's going to get shipped to you in additional of a bulk pack. In any other case you find yourself placing much more added value into your product that you find yourself throwing away”.

The subsequent step was to determine the postponement factors for his or her large number of merchandise. The answer was to have two distinct postponement factors for the low-end commodity merchandise. Imation noticed that there was worth added by providing the customization of disks and CDs for smaller clients equivalent to non-public corporations and universities who customized order media and knowledge storage units with a emblem printed on them. Due to this fact, they created a secondary manufacturing plant in Oakdale the place emblem printing takes place.

The second postponement level happens on the level of packaging. Merchandise are shipped in bulk to a packaging centre in Kansas Metropolis, MO the place completely different measurement packages are assembled-to-order. By having two postponement factors Imation has been capable of delay including worth at a number of steps till extra details about buyer demand is understood. The outcome has been much less obsolescence, decrease stock prices, and the creation of latest home job alternatives.

Manufacturing for all the high-end merchandise (tape libraries and enormous knowledge storage units) takes place within the US due to the placement to the client and an unwillingness to attend for manufacturing offshore. Imation holds stock of those excessive margin objects however provides labels and initializes the tapes for a particular buyer order. On this case it's the buyer which drives the placement of the enterprise in addition to the extent of stock.

Earlier than implementing postponement, strategists at Imation constructed a mannequin to assist quantify the advantages and prices related to altering their operations. Bills for the corporate got here in three areas: quicker transport strategies, obsolescence, and elevated stock value on account of worth erosion. “The mannequin appears in any respect the parts and says, ‘primarily based on any such worth erosion and life cycle, that is the quantity of postponement you must do.’ The availability chain workforce and finance can plug these figures in after which we do a calculation and say ‘okay, primarily based on these standards, that is the perfect resolution for us.’ We are attempting to attenuate the entire delivered value as an alternative of the entire unit value”. Consequently, manufacturing value elevated and there was resistance from suppliers as a result of Imation needed to imagine extra duty for the value-added course of, or customization. Getting administration assist was troublesome as a result of they might see value will increase in manufacturing. Nevertheless, realizing that they minimized complete delivered value, Imation noticed their stock turns double and transportation prices offset by the flexibility to ship merchandise to the US in bulk as an alternative of in packaged type. As well as, market share for merchandise that aren't postponed is wherever from 10-15 % versus 80-90 % for these which can be postponed.

In additional creating their postponement technique, Imation makes use of warning as a result of some merchandise don't require postponement actions so as to be worthwhile. It's a mixture of market worth and life cycle modifications that dictate whether or not or not postponement is a viable choice. Utilizing the mannequin is useful to grasp the extent to which Imation ought to postpone. “It’s not a set quantity. We take a look at all these variables and our quantity will fluctuate. We're much less prone to postpone objects on the launch of a brand new product”. Postponement assumes sure traits about demand and market components. At product introduction some deficiencies of the product will not be seen till the maturity part. Choices on sourcing are usually not remaining till the market reacts to competitors and suppliers are strategically chosen primarily based on buyer willingness to attend.

Imation highlights the advantages that come from suspending at varied phases in a product’s complete lead time. The case emphasizes that elevated prices in manufacturing are inevitable and the significance of minimizing complete product value as an alternative of unit value. It additionally factors out the significance of timing when implementing postponement. Permitting a product to achieve maturity could show to be a greater total method so as to decide whether or not demand traits even assist such a transfer.


The most typical strategic motivations for beginning postponement had been to enhance service stage and to cut back stock holding value on account of a rise in product selection. Postponement methods begin with the purpose of minimizing one metric and infrequently end in enhancements in different areas. Determine 6.1 reveals an inventory of the first drivers of postponement for every firm and the first ensuing advantages. One other key think about profitable implementation is product modularity.

Whereas postponement is a brand new idea for some corporations it's now the usual for many who have seen its advantages. Postponement has confirmed itself as a useful technique for addressing the inevitable uncertainty of buyer demand.