5 Types of Manufacturing Processes You Should Know About

Abby Baumann Jun 23, 2022
manufacturing process

A manufacturing process is what helps businesses organize and create a system for building and creating products. Oftentimes the process is complicated with many different stages, types of machinery, tools, equipment, and computerization. Establishing a manufacturing process means that you have a standard set of guidelines that help you with every product you create, even if complications arise.

While there are many methods and theories of manufacturing (like lean manufacturing), there are five main manufacturing processes that you should know. These five processes are used by thousands of global businesses across all industries. In this article, we’ll discuss these five types and go over some useful tools for implementing them in your production facilities and factories.

1. Repetitive Manufacturing

Repetitive manufacturing is often what we think of when we imagine a manufacturing setting. It is a basic process that creates the same product using an assembly line in a repetitive fashion. This can be used for rapid manufacturing to produce many of the same products, or similar products, in a short period of time.

This type of manufacturing works best for industries that need a predictable and stable finished product for mass consumption. Many consumer goods industries use repetitive manufacturing for this exact reason — it helps create more consistency than other forms of manufacturing and leads to easier quality assurance. The assembly line remains fairly consistent, with only a few changeovers needed as slight variations of the product are made over time.

Repetitive manufacturing relies on scheduling production to satisfy demand, and doing so in the least amount of time. This makes repetitive manufacturing good for high-volume and large-scale production, and the help of tools can make it easier to increase throughput and reduce costs as the process grows.

Industries that use repetitive manufacturing include:

  • Consumer goods manufacturing
  • Electronics and computers
  • Automotive

2. Discrete Manufacturing

Discrete manufacturing is similar to repetitive manufacturing in that it also runs on production lines and assembly lines. However, the types of goods that are created in discrete manufacturing are very different from repetitive manufacturing. Rather than running the lines to get the same product every time, discrete manufacturing will frequently change the setups and requirements of machines on the line to create custom products and consumer goods.

While the frequent changeover, setup, and teardown can have costs in the form of time and labor, the ability to create different products on the same line is important to certain industries. These industries create products that require detailed levels of customization in what they produce, rather than the same product over and over again.

Industries that use discrete manufacturing include:

  • Computer and electronics
  • General technology
  • Aviation and aerospace

3. Job Shop Manufacturing

Job shop manufacturing moves away from the standard assembly line and instead uses a setup of workstations and workshops to create small batches of custom products. This type of manufacturing is highly reliant on trained operators, who add a different element to the product at each workstation. In many cases, each of these highly-skilled employees are responsible for operating multiple machines in a job shop manufacturing setting, rather than just one. This process works well for producing customized products, as it slows down production and focuses on the quality of the products, not the quantity.

This works well for made-to-order (MTO) or made-to-stock (MTS) products that need to be made individually or in a few small batches. Many small businesses start out with job shop manufacturing, but over time and as technology allows, there can be room for automation at some of the stations rather than human workers. Machines can certainly help with the efficiency and output of job shop manufacturing.

Industries that use job shop manufacturing include:

  • Printing and newspapers
  • Footwear and wearable consumer goods
  • Defense and aerospace

4. Continuous Manufacturing

Similarly to repetitive manufacturing, continuous manufacturing, as the name implies, is a constant process that runs without delay or hold time — often for 24 hours a day. Like repetitive manufacturing, continuous manufacturing is good for creating large quantities of product — the biggest difference between the two processes is the types of materials being used.

 While repetitive manufacturing uses solid components, continuous manufacturing instead uses slurries, powders, liquids, and gasses to create products. This means that continuous manufacturing is often used for industries that don’t create consumer goods, but instead create things like pharmaceuticals and medications, power and energy, or chemical components.

The difference in material components requires different machines and safety standards, but even with the change in raw material, there is still a need for high outputs. This is why continuous manufacturing doesn’t stop or slow down for things like shift changes or changeover.

Industries that use continuous manufacturing include:

  • Mining
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Power stations and oil refining

5. Batch Manufacturing

Batch manufacturing is very different from repetitive and continuous manufacturing and is closer to the types of manufacturing found in discrete and job shop processes. Rather than being run constantly, machines in batch manufacturing might be left alone for periods of time and are only used when a new batch of products is required. However, similarly to continuous manufacturing, the materials used are liquids, slurries, and gasses.

Many businesses in the food and beverage industries use batch manufacturing to create edible goods as needed. It wouldn’t make sense to constantly run machines that create perishable goods, as it would lead to more waste and lost revenue. However, other industries still use the same methodology and only run their machines as needed to avoid waste. During the downtime, machines are cleaned and maintained until their next use.

Industries that use batch manufacturing include:

  • Food and beverage
  • Pharmaceuticals

Wrapping it Up

Understanding the different types of manufacturing processes can help you learn which methodology works best for you, and how to manage your production lines more effectively. When you have an idea of what style of manufacturing is right for your business, it’s much easier to organize your processes, establish new techniques, reduce waste with lean manufacturing principles, and increase your production output.

As a manufacturer, you want to ensure that your production process is optimized and creates a consistent final product. The manufacturing industry as a whole can work to improve its production rate and make advancements that benefit the customer — and help the supply chain move smoothly. As customer demand increases, the need for automation and greater production means that businesses should evaluate the benefits of tools like machine monitoring. Try Amper’s machine monitoring solution free for 30 days.

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