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4 Examples of Delayed Differentiation

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Delayed differentiation is a supply chain technique that delays finishing a product until the last possible moment in the supply chain. This helps to align supply and demand and potentially allows products to be customized. The following are illustrative examples.


Paint may be offered in hundreds of colors. Producing these at the factory tends to lead to overproduction of some colors and underproduction of others. As such, paints may be formulated from three or more base mixes. The final color may be produced at a distributorship or retailer.


Automobile manufacturers that mass produce base models and add minor customizations when the car is actually ordered. In many cases, customizations such as audio systems may be installed at the dealership.

Fresh Packaged Foods

Grocery stores often run their own kitchens that produce fresh foods such as salads and precooked entrees in the store. Such local production reduces waste as the store creates things in small batches that typically sell.


Clothing companies may produce certain items in white and not perform the final coloring process until they know what colors are selling. Base items may be manufactured on a global basis and coloring steps may occur at regional locations.
Overview: Delayed Differentiation
Delaying finishing products until the last reasonable moment in order to meet demand and avoid surplus supply.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about manufacturing.
Acceptance Sampling
Assembly Line
Batch Production
Cell Production
Continuous Process
Continuous Production
Craft Production
Cycle Time
Delayed Differentiation
Finished Goods
Genchi Genbutsu
Interchangeable Parts
Intermittent Production
Job Production
Job Shop
Lead Time
Light Industry
Lights Out
Make To Stock
Manufacturing Industry
Manufacturing Quality
Mass Customization
Mass Production
Production Line
Production Process
Production Run
Quality Control
Takt Time
Target Costing
Theory Of Constraints
White Label
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A list of manufacturing examples.

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The difference between batch production and mass production.

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The difference between a production line and assembly line.

Continuous Process

A definition of continuous process with examples.

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Make To Stock

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Production Process

The common types of production process.

Production Run

A definition of production run with examples.

Continuous Production

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Cell Production

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A definition of custom fit with a few examples.


A term to describe products and services that are commissioned by a customer.


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