What is Configure to Order (CTO)?

Configure to Order (CTO) is a manufacturing process in which a product is assembled to customer specifications. Customers select from a range of options when ordering the product, and the finished product is then created using the customer’s chosen configuration. This allows manufacturers to offer a wide range of products without needing to keep all variants in stock, as each product can be customized to meet the customer’s specific needs. In addition, CTO can help reduce manufacturing costs by allowing for mass production of standard components that can be used in various configurations. As a result, CTO is an increasingly popular manufacturing strategy for companies that offer customizable products.

The benefits of CTO

This type of customization offers several benefits for both businesses and consumers. For businesses, CTO allows for greater production flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to changing customer demand. In addition, CTO can help companies to manage inventory levels better and reduce waste. For consumers, CTO provides the opportunity to purchase exactly the product they need, rather than settling for a “one size fits all” solution. In addition, CTO can help to reduce environmental impact by reducing the amount of material and energy required to produce each unit. Ultimately, CTO is a win-win solution that can benefit businesses and consumers.

How does Configure to Order (CTO) work in the manufacturing process?

CTO is a mode of manufacturing in which a product goes through final customization steps typically at the end of the manufacturing process to complete the build to a predetermined order and specification.  In a CTO environment, customers select the predetermined set of features they want to include in their product order, and the manufacturer produces the product to those specifications. This manufacturing process can be used for a wide variety of products, from computers to cars. A common approach to CTO of electronic devices is to build a standard device and load custom software or firmware in the final steps to meet a specific customer use environment.  Another approach is to make component or hardware changes in the final stages of the product assembly process that will change the product features or performance.  As a result, customers can order products that are better suited to their needs and preferences.

How can you make the most of CTO in your business?

Undoubtedly, a CTO can be a great way to streamline your business and make the most of your resources. But how can you ensure you’re getting the most out of CTO in your own company? Here are a few tips:

First, determine with your customer the variants that will be required and establish firm specifications for each configuration, including the testing required at the end of the assembly process to ensure the product meets the specific customer requirements.  This establishes the levels of customization needed and defines each product to be offered.  

Second, create robust processes for receiving, storing, and imaging the range of software or firmware variants that will be used.  Ensure product nomenclature and revisions are clear and tightly aligned with the Bills of Materials for components and assembly instructions to ensure the correct configurations match the customer order and are therefore built correctly on the manufacturing floor.     

Finally, keep in mind that CTO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has different needs, so it’s essential to tailor CTO to fit your company’s particular requirements. By doing so, you’ll be sure to get the most out of this powerful tool.


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