Built to Order, how does Apple do it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Luba, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. Luba macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    Just wondering/curious how Apple fulfills built to order via their online store. Is it like a cook in a restaurant with an order to make, like from scratch, for example grab the correct size HDD and screw it in to a Mac with the correct processor. I read a long time ago the Dell does exactly that, building a computer from the bottom up.

    Or, does the online store simply have large inventory of various configurations because they can, and then simply sends a Mac perhaps with a tweak here and there (Num keyboard versus small keyboard).

    I wonder if the standard configuration has been tested by Apple to be the best overall for durability, heat, and performance. For example, it's only $50 extra to get a 7200 rpm HDD on the MBPs and I would think it would be simpler and cheaper for Apple to only offer 7200 rpm HDD, especially on their 15s and 17s. Instead Apple has the 5400 as standard because less could go wrong, but if consumers wanted better performance they allow them to risk it by offering a 7200 option.
  2. geoffreak macrumors 68020


    Feb 8, 2008
    I am almost certain that it is built from scratch (at least the logic board is, for a processor upgrade) when you order it, as your order isn't shipped out for several days, not to mention that it comes direct from China.
  3. opera57 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    Yea its done in the factory in Shanghai I think, when I wanted a 160gb instead of a 120gb in my MBP 2 years ago they shipped it direct from there. [​IMG]
  4. rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    No it doesn't always come from China when you do BTO. My iMac came from the SF Bay area when I got it.
  5. Luba thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    Hmmm, was the final assembly of the various parts done in San Fran, or it was all assembled in China. And San Fran simply had a wide and varied inventory ready to accommodate any configuration.

  6. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    I did a Logistics report on Apple for one of my postgraduate courses, and the research I had at the time indicated that they are built to order straight from the factory.

    The labor cost of having someone physically open the box, make the upgrade, and reseal it would lower margins significantly not to mention delay shipments.

    This doesn't mean some assembly doesn't take place there. It is possible that occasionally if the plants in China or Ireland or some of the other countries where Apple has contractors are overloaded or something a US-based contractor does the work. That could explain the few odd shipments of products from California.

    It would really be occasional, though, and certainly lower volume. Having any significant manufacturing operations in the US would lower margins significantly.

    All of Apple's manufacturing is done by 3PL's (Third Party Logistics), meaning Apple does not own any manufacturing facilities of their own.

    That increases the challenge of analyzing their supply chain and how things are built from start to finish -- this is because Apple uses short term contracts, usually 90 days in length IIRC, for many parts and such, so suppliers and factories where Apple stuff is made can change quickly.
  7. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Everything is Assembled in China, where it ships from is a whole other story.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    RE: Built to Order, how does Apple do it?

    This is a guess and nothing more, but there may be certain build-to-order configurations that are much more common than others.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple "pre-builds" such "common configurations" in advance, and keeps a stock of them on hand in-country.

    They just don't ship them to brick-and-mortar Apple Stores.

    - John
  9. angemon89 macrumors 68000


    Feb 5, 2008
    The place where Apple designs stuff
    Do you mean Elk Grove, CA? That's where mine came from when I BTO'd it.

    I would hardly consider Elk Grove being in the bay area though. :p
  10. oregon2 macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2009
    Yeah, my refurb came from elk grove.
  11. Nasus macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2006
    Just ordered a BTO 24" 2.93 iMac and the order was filled and shipped in 3 days and the FedEx tracking lists Newark, CA as the pick up point. I believe that's in the SFO bay area.

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