Job, Batch or Mass? What Production System Do You Qualify For?

Kulasekar Sethupathy April 9, 2015

production_systemIdentifying a production system that suits products and services is an essential decision that all manufacturers must make early on.

Each of the three major production systems, job production, batch production and flow production, carry their own pros and cons, and their compatibility with a company/product varies depending on circumstance.

What is your budget for labor? How adaptable must your production be to generate the greatest profitability? These are factors to consider when determining which system you qualify for. In this article, we outline what each of these production systems entail, and how you can identify which system is best suited for your company and product offers.

Job Production

Job production is production on a product-by-product basis; time is spent on each individual product, carefully creating unique and high quality products from project start to finish. Creating unique standalone products in this way requires far greater labor than the other two production systems featured in this article, but the products made this way are generally far more valuable as well. 

Overall production, from first steps to sale, can take a long time, but the rewards are great for products built this way with high marketplace demand. In these markets, however, it’s not typically feasible, economically, to scale up production in accordance with demand, as this balance between labor, cost and returns would be unsustainable. 

Job production is common in the following industries:

  • Handmade furniture goods
  • Various craft industries
  • Custom clothing

Batch Production

Batch production is the manufacturing of objects along stages, typically configured with various workstations and manufacturing steps. At each of these stages, product batches are created and modified per-batch with variants such as color, material or size. 

Batch production is ideal for companies that require greater yield than what one-off, job production provides, but lack the capital to pursue mass production. Batch production is also useful for younger companies introducing new product types to market: if a product performs poorly, they can stop manufacturing that batch; if a product performs well, production can continue as planned.

Producing goods in this way may be problematic if equipment used (the workstations at each stage) must be re-configured and tested for product variants. Downtime can end up raising product cost to unstable levels if companies aren’t wary of the problem beforehand.

Batch production is common in the following industries:

  • Baked goods
  • Pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Paint and adhesive production

Mass/Flow Production

Mass production, unlike job or batch systems, is manufacturing on the large-scale; standardized goods, assembly lines and automation are the norm for mass production. Mass production consumes a significant amount of energy and capital investment, but also churns out vastly higher, more repeatable product yields. 

Per unit cost is a fraction of products created with batch or job production, but mass production as a whole requires larger investment in technologies and manufacturing automation systems. In mass production, workers are typically only required for quality assurance tasks, and automation is heavily featured throughout the product lifecycle.

Mass production is common in virtually any bulk product industry, including the following:

  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Food and beverage
  • Fuel
  • Appliances
  • Chemical production

Things to Consider

Whether job, batch or mass production best suits your business model depends on a few things central to your product and growth goals. This includes:

  • The amount of products you plan to sell, as well as the amount of products you are likely to actually sell
  • The products you are making, and their compatibility with various production configurations
  • Product variety or consistency expected by consumers; unique products, for instance, are only possible with job production configurations, while standardized products are more compatible with mass production
  • Costs associated with production, which may be reduced through implementation of various strategic initiatives directed to lower cost. This includes practices like value engineering, part standardization and modular engineering

It should be noted that there are no universal truths in manufacturing, and a production system that works for a competitor may not work for you. Production and cost optimization varies on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to carefully evaluate your production goals, strengths and weaknesses when choosing a production system to pursue.

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Topics Manufacturing Execution Systems