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Manufacturing as a Restaurant Model

Author: David Wang   Publication Date: September 23, 2016

What does it mean for a manufacturer to act like a restaurant?

A restaurant has two elements, one is raw material that is turned into a finished product and the other is providing a service to the customer. So there are a couple of things to talk about both front and back.


On the frontend, the big part is your customer that the restaurant provides the service to. On the backend is the kitchen the operational aspect. The kitchen is the operation and the dining room is the service.


The restaurant can be standardized where every menu item comes out the same or the restaurant could have several signature dishes that can be tailored to the particular customer. This process is based on a small selection of raw materials that are selected in the kitchen by the chef, prepared for the customer and delivered fast. You can have a steak and ask for it to be cooked rare, medium or well. These are the tailoring services that the restaurant industry is doing.


When talking about the manufacturing model it is the total opposite traditionally, meaning that your factory has to be built to make certain products. That’s all your tooling, your expertise and your configuration of the factory. I remember very personally and clearly that when I bought the first iPod Nano, you were able to engrave the name of your wife or a friend as a gift. That made the whole meaning of this product individualized. That was the beginning of more service flavor manufacturing.


The manufacturer can be like the restaurant but there is a big operational challenge and part of that is managing your raw materials and managing your process, to create the magic to turn a small set of raw materials into varieties of finished products. That’s what we have been doing at Wave2Wave, from the frontend to the backend.


We connect with customers and understand their requirements and we build the product based on their requirements in two weeks’ lead time, tailored. With very many of the customers and partners that we have been engaging, that has never been heard of.


So over the last 10 or 12 years we have been putting this service element in our manufacturing process from customer communications to engineering, which is then linked to our internal manufacturing capabilities. Making our manufacturing process a tailored manufacturing process with a fast delivery. That’s is one of the innovations Wave2Wave has been keeping as our internal capability. That’s the secret sauce that allows us to deliver tailored and high-quality products to customers in a very short lead time on time, every single time.


If you overcome the operational challenges, you will build a great business that puts customer’s personal needs and application requirements at the center of your engagement with that customer. Then you take that all the way to your manufacturing process and you make it fast so you meet their requirements in consistent time with consistent quality.