A Short Guide to the 5 Types of Manufacturing Processes

manufacturing processes

Defined as the production of goods from raw materials, manufacturing is one of the main drivers of the global economy and a continual source of innovation and development. While many companies still use manufacturing processes that originated in the Industrial Revolution, there are sectors that employ modern manufacturing operations management systems designed by specialists such as 3DS. This article examines the five main manufacturing processes used today.

Repetitive Manufacturing

Repetitive manufacturing creates products identical or similar in nature. It employs dedicated production lines that can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Also, repetitive manufacturing is ideal for any business that requires constant high-volume production with short turnaround times. Assembly lines remain consistent and any changes or enhancements to the product or the line itself can be done quickly.

Repetitive manufacturing is used to create products such as:

  • Consumer goods
  • Electronic products
  • Computers
  • Automotive parts

Discrete Manufacturing

Another traditional form of manufacturing is discrete manufacturing. Although discrete manufacturing uses the same assembly line and production line system as repetitive manufacturing, the setup of the equipment used on the lines can be changed to produce a greater variety of products. This can result in slower production times than repetitive manufacturing but also produces higher quality, more customized products.

Industries that use discrete manufacturing include:

  • Aviation industry
  • Aerospace industry
  • Medical and health sector
  • Telecommunications industry
  • Children’s toy manufacturers

Job Shop Manufacturing

Job shop manufacturing is a step away from production line-type operations management systems. This process is most often used for made-to-stock or made-to-order, high-quality, customized products that are produced in small quantities. Rather than a continuous assembly or production line, job shop manufacturing utilizes individual workstation production areas staffed by skilled employees. While it is slower than repetitive or discrete, job shop manufacturing processes can be enhanced and made more efficient using specialized software.

Job shop manufacturing is preferred to produce goods such as:

  • Specialized components
  • Clothing
  • Fashion accessories
  • Magazines and newspapers

Batch Process Manufacturing

This combines elements of discrete manufacturing and job shop manufacturing processes. With the batch process manufacturing process, products only produce when required. The rate of production depends on consumer demand and the availability of raw materials.

Unlike repetitive and discrete manufacturing, batch process manufacturing can have periods of downtime. Once a batch of goods has been produced, all equipment and machinery are cleaned and prepared until the next batch is required.

Batch process manufacturing uses:

  • Beverages
  • Food products
  • Pharmaceuticals

Continuous Process Manufacturing

As with repetitive manufacturing, this type is a system that operates all the time. With this method, manufacturing operations management processes can run every hour of the day, every day of the year with no downtime.

The difference between repetitive manufacturing and continuous process manufacturing lies in the type of raw materials. So, continuous process manufacturing involves liquids, gasses, slurries, and powders to produce goods. Whereas, repetitive manufacturing involves solid materials.

Continuous process manufacturing uses:

  • Oil refining
  • Paper production
  • Mining
  • Food production, for example, sauces, juices, and spreads

The Future of Manufacturing

These five main manufacturing operations management systems are still the rule for a wide variety of industry sectors. While there is no doubt these processes will continue on when considering the future. Many industry analysts point to the rise of 3D printing.

New 3D printing technology can reduce waste and enable easier testing, research, and development processes in the manufacturing industry. Likewise, as 3D printing becomes more widespread, it seems poised to become the sixth major manufacturing operations management system.

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