Manufacturing refers to all the processes, materials, components, resources, locations, and techniques necessary to make goods. Because the manufacturing process is so complex, there isn’t a universal technique applicable to any business. Each company is unique, has particular needs, budgets and specific objectives. Understanding what type of manufacturing process works best for your company is key to your success.
In this article, we’re going to explore what a manufacturing process is and the 5 most versatile and effective types of manufacturing processes.
What is a manufacturing process?
Simply put, the manufacturing process of your company is the exact way you produce goods. Although it may seem a simple concept, it is a complex activity. It involves machinery, human resources, tools, equipment, MRP software and automation. The way you establish your manufacturing process must consider what your resources are, whether or not you provide customization options, and if you manufacture in batches.
Think of your company’s characteristics and specific needs while browsing the following types of manufacturing processes to understand which one can best work for you.
The repetitive manufacturing process involves dedicated production lines, each of them working on the same product all day, and – in most cases – year-round. You can, of course, work on more than one production line at the same time and have as many lines as you need.
This type of manufacturing process is ideal when you need to create standard and non-customized products. Not only can you reach a high speed in the production rate, but you can also match the operation speed with the current customer demand. If, during a particular season, you’re selling many items of one product but fewer of another, you can speed up or slow down the related product lines to optimize your resources. The repetitive manufacturing process is mainly used by companies that manufacture electronic goods and devices.
If you need to produce many items, at a high rate, and they are all similar, but available in different styles, sizes, or other modifications, then you may prefer a discrete manufacturing process.
This is also a manufacturing process that involves different production lines for each item, but these production lines allow different setups. When compared to the repetitive process, the discrete one can take longer because of the extra setups, but it’s far more convenient than having a different production line for every variation of the very same product.
Many manufacturing companies use the discrete manufacturing process, and it’s ideal for electronic or medical devices, toys, smartphones, automobiles, clothing, and many more.
Job shop manufacturing
This manufacturing process doesn’t involve production lines, but rather different production areas. Each one of these areas is specialized and optimized for the production of a single version of an item. This is preferred when you need to produce smaller batches of products and custom items. The job shop manufacturing process is suitable for both made-to-order (MTO) and made-to-stock (MTS) products.
We speak about MTO when the production is triggered and goes on according to sales orders. When an order is received the production process begins.
With MTS systems, products are manufactured for inventory. The production rate is based on sales forecasts and customer demand.
One of the main advantages of the job shop manufacturing process is that it can be adapted to a discrete manufacturing line and therefore, accelerate the production rate.
Continuous manufacturing process
This is a process similar to repetitive manufacturing, but it’s used in the production of raw materials such as liquids, powders, gases, or slurries. Just like the repetitive process, it involves production lines that run 24/7. The continuous manufacturing process is used by companies that deal with food products. metal, oil refining, paper production, and more.
Batch manufacturing process
Batch manufacturing is ideal for smaller companies that don’t require a 24/7 production line with high production rates. This type of manufacturing process shares some similarities with the discrete and job shop manufacturing. It’s triggered and based on customer demand (like the job shop process) and it’s not strict to a single production line (like the discrete process).
When you have ingredients or raw materials that serve to assemble or produce different types of products, you need a more diverse production process. With batch manufacturing you have your raw materials and tools at your disposal and different areas ready to start working as soon as an order comes in. When the order is fulfilled, the area is cleaned and ready for the next ones.
You don’t have to strictly use a single manufacturing process, but adapt them to your particular business case. Some of these processes are more versatile and can work as discrete production lines or job shop areas according to your needs. Now that you know all the options at your disposal, you can set up the most suitable manufacturing process (or processes) for the specific needs of your company.