The manufacturing industry is full of different production process patterns that deal with the procurement of raw materials and the creation of workflows that improve production planning. These processes have many different names and functions based on the type of final product being made.
One type of manufacturing that is popular for many industries is discrete manufacturing. This style of manufacturing relies on accurate supply chain management and assembly line processes in order to create distinct items. In this article, we’ll discuss more about what discrete manufacturing is and give some examples and advantages of discrete manufacturing processes.
What Is Discrete Manufacturing?
Discrete manufacturing is a system of manufacturing individual, distinct items. These individual units can then be customized and made to order, which reduces waste in the manufacturing process. It also allows for low volume production based on customer demand rather than massive volume outputs.
What’s the Difference Between Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing?
In discrete manufacturing, product parts are typically created across multiple work sites and then those separate pieces come together at the end of the production cycle to complete the finished product. One defining characteristic of discrete manufacturing is that you can dismantle the product at the end of its life cycle and recycle the raw materials. Examples include automobiles, smartphones and electronic devices, kitchen equipment, and furniture. We’ll discuss these examples in greater detail in the next section.
Process manufacturing works in a formulaic or sequential format where batches of product are created in a single work site. These components are combined together, typically with some form of thermal convection like freezing or heating, so that the raw material itself is completely transformed and cannot return to its original state.
Examples of process manufacturing include the food and beverage industries, oil and gas, metals, and pharmaceuticals. These materials are transformed and need specific ingredients and sequential steps to create a finished product.
Examples of Discrete Manufacturing
Let’s dive deeper into some of those major discrete manufacturing industries we touched on earlier. As a reminder, these industries rely on assembling different parts in order to create individual end products.
The automotive industry is a classic example of discrete manufacturing. The separate components of the vehicle are often produced in factories across the globe. Then, the parts ship to the auto manufacturer and come together on an assembly line to create the final car. Each vehicle can be customized to meet a specific model type, or even further to meet a specific customer’s requests.
Electronic devices and technological equipment are another example of discrete manufacturing. The various components that make up things like televisions, smartphones, cameras, and tablets can be taken apart and put back into their individual parts when needed for repairs or maintenance. A calling card of discrete manufacturing, these items can also be heavily customized. Think about purchasing a new laptop: You select the storage, display size, processor, and a number of other specifics that make your laptop unique from the next customer’s.
Everything in the kitchen — from blenders to stoves and refrigerators — can be made using discrete manufacturing. The various components can be collected through procurement processes and assembled on the final factory floor to create the end product. While these items are generally not customized as often as personal devices like cell phones, the discrete manufacturing process makes it easy to meet a range of “standard” customer needs, such as varying refrigerator widths.
While the materials in furniture are different from cars and electronic devices, the process of construction is very much the same: putting pieces together to form an end product based on consumer demand. Consider buying a couch, where you can choose the material, number of seats, and style. Highly customizable, the furniture industry is a classic example of how discrete manufacturing works.
Amper works with a number of discrete manufacturers. Check out our customer case studies to learn how we can help.