7 Types of Manufacturing Methods
Through the years, technology has evolved to satisfy the growing needs of various commercial industries. Each innovation feeds even more innovation, creating a loop of technological advancement that continues up to this day. This has created an environment where manufacturers are equipped for just about any volume or type of consumer demand.
Manufacturing refers to the mass production of finished goods from raw materials using any combination of human labor, tools, and machines. With such a broad definition, it is hardly surprising that manufacturing comprises a vast ecosystem of various methods. What exactly are these manufacturing methods and what objectives do they satisfy?
Why the need for so many manufacturing methods?
As a whole, manufacturing methods refer to techniques of producing finished goods from raw materials, the volume and specifications of which depend on market demand and customer requirements. This means that a manufacturing method must be chosen and implemented based on the specific product being made, how much of its needs to be produced, and the available tools on-hand.
Thus, the development of several manufacturing methods came about to balance the needs of customers and the economics of manufacturing. As we shall see later, different manufacturing methods have workflows based on different ideologies, all geared towards serving customer requirements in the most economical way possible.
1. Mass production
The most common manufacturing method is mass production – a process by which a large volume of finished goods is produced based on set quality or product standards. Although the concept of mass production has been around even before the Industrial Revolution, it is only through the development of machine tools that the practice of modern mass production as we know it today has started.
It is also through mass production that the concept of assembly lines was developed. An assembly line is simply a conveyor, whether automated or manually driven, that passes a single part from one step to the next. In more complex manufacturing processes , several parallel assembly lines may exist.
The economics of mass production are delivered via several factors. The use of dedicated assembly lines for a limited number of products saves time in tooling changes and materials preparation. Automation also means that there is less labor cost needed and that the effects of human error are minimized. Moreover, a fully set up automated process can create a huge volume of orders at a much shorter time than traditional manual methods.
The main limitation of mass production is that it’s very inflexible. These methods do not respond well to design changes and can hardly accommodate requests for customization. This lack of versatility can make mass production methods unsuitable for markets that require the regular introduction of new or redesigned products. With this...