When considering your manufacturing options, there’s a number of production methods, with each offering its own unique set of benefits depending on product type and market size. All businesses follow their own set of operation, so it’s essential to know the differences between various production methods to ensure that you are selecting the most suitable and cost-effective solutions for you.
It’s also important to understand that while one production method may work the best for your production needs today, a different method may be required to keep costs low and to reach a larger customer base. The most successful manufacturers will realize the importance of flexibility with how their operating processes are designed, as well as how easily their facility can adapt to potential future changes.
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Job Production Method
When producing high quality or highly specialized products such as luxury watches, job production is the method typically used. Job production focuses on a single item at a time and usually requires a specific set of skills depending on the product being produced. These skills can be hard to come by and could require extra time spent in hiring production employees.
Artisan and handcrafted brands utilize job production methods to create their exclusive products, but at a much slower pace and typically for an individual customer or very small audience.
Depending on your brand, there are many benefits of working with a job production method including increased customer satisfaction. Additionally if the products being produced aren’t too complex many skilled laborers can be hired to produce your products efficiently around the world in artisan communities.
Batch Production Method
Batch production is when a facility manufactures specific groups of pieces or completed products in small preset batch sizes. This kind of production method is usually adopted by small companies as its capable of reducing the initial capital outlay. Batch production makes it easier to control the quality and schedule of production as everything from designs to material requirements are standardized for specific product variations well before production begins.
Often times batch production methods are used to create elements of a final product which will go through multiple stages before the final product itself is completed. This also gives the manufacturer the capability to produce several products in different variations.
For example, a production order for 1,000 socks of the same dimensions, where half are required to be white and the other half red, batch production is the best option. It allows the manufacturer to create 500 white socks and then quickly retool the line, in this case change the dye color, to produce 500 red socks. Although, this also has its own set of drawbacks as the production line must be put to a halt and reconfigured between each batch.
While materials will be cheaper due to order in bulk and labor costs will be lower as batch production doesn’t require a highly skilled team, there will be drawbacks when it comes to storing your products. Warehousing costs can quickly add up so it’s crucial that companies order only as much product as they need for the time in between production runs.
Flow Production Method
If your brand plans to produce complex products such as kitchen appliances or furniture you’ll most likely deal with flow production methods somewhere in your product’s production process.
Flow production involves passing of sub-assemblies or individual parts from one production to the next until the final product is completed. This way, production lines for each stage of the completed product’s production cycle can run without interruption even if another line needs to be retooled.
There are many benefits to utilizing flow production in a mass production process; however, creating unique assembly lines for each sub-assembly is exclusive to massive production orders as the costs are too high to be justifiable for smaller production runs. In many cases, flow-based assembly lines produce the exact same product for years if not decades before any changes are made.
Mass Production Method
Mass production, sometimes utilizing flow production, cuts out the problem of downtime associated with batch manufacturing. Although, this method will only be cost-effective when producing large quantities of the same product, which makes it difficult to utilize as a new business or for those operating in niche markets. The concepts of mass production can be applied to all sorts of products, from food, fuel, chemicals and mind minerals to discrete substantial parts, such as fasteners, to assemblies of individual parts for things such as automobiles or household appliances.
Mass productions are usually almost fully automated, requiring only a minimal amount of staff to monitor the process and perform random quality checks. Producing large quantities means that the price of each individual unit will be greatly reduced. However, due to the nature of this process high quality control can be difficult to achieve and defect rates tend to run higher.
Mass production has its benefits, but the initial production costs required and the lack of quality control makes it something smaller businesses should be cautious about pursuing.
Which is best for you?
Depending on your products and budget you may not have the luxury of choice when it comes to your preferred manufacturing methods. While it may seem like a drawback, it can be advantageous to be forced to work with small production runs, or even job production methods, especially if you’re ordering less than 10,000 units per production run (depending on the product).
As you sell your products you’ll learn more about your customers expectations and needs in regard to the item you’re selling. This will allow you to refine your products quickly without committing to large production runs. Unfortunately many businesses skip this step and commit to producing a product that hasn’t been refined enough for mass production making it difficult to close initial sales and generate return customers down the road.
When you create a product that meets the needs of most of your customers it’s time to think about flow and mass production methods to begin cutting costs and to make sure your inventory levels remain healthy as more customers place orders.