Today we’re going to be discussing a popular manufacturing method called batch production. More specifically, we’re going to look at what batch production is, why organisations use this manufacturing process, and the advantages and disadvantages. First, we need to understand what this manufacturing method is.
What is batch production in manufacturing?
Batch production is a method of manufacturing where identical or similar items are produced together for different sized production runs. The method allows for products to be mass-produced in batches with small to major changes to the product, from car doors through to children’s toys.
Each batch goes through a single stage of the production process before moving onto the next stage to make the desired product. It’s a key solution used by businesses of various sizes across multiple industries.
Changes may occur between different batches, such as products constructed in different colours, sizes, and styles. If a product needs to be altered, this variation can be changed as the production process switches from one batch style to the other.
What makes this form of producing products different from larger types of manufacturing such as mass production or continuous production?
It’s that the full process can be carefully quality controlled at different stages of the production process. This is a key benefit of the production process where a batch can be assessed to reduce the amount of wastage on a product.
Why do manufacturers use batch production?
It’s recommended to use this form of manufacturing when producing in smaller quantities because this can reduce waste and decrease lead times in production. As these products are not continuously made, manufacturers can charge a premium price for their product but still make them in some cases at relatively cheap prices thanks to mass production of that batch.
The ability of these mass-production orientated machinery systems includes assembling product components, involving control and testing capabilities, and building in a ‘no-faults forward’ mechanism. This ensures the level of incorrect batches that might be pulled through to the next process are kept to a minimum.
What are examples of this manufacturing method?
Industries have used this type of manufacturing to make their overall process more efficient. Dependant on your desired output rate, engineering experts are able to create automated assembly systems to help meet the needs of your production process. Examples of products created within the batch production process include:
- Flatpack furniture
- Electrical goods
- Baked goods
- Books/ newspapers
- Fast food
Case Study Examples
The following case studies highlight companies that have purchased solutions to aid batch production:
- A well-known dairy company to supply a new stainless-steel belt conveyor system for an improved butter tub checking line
- A spiral conveyor system for effective proving and cooling of pancakes
- A major UK salad producer installed a converger solution to solve a product merging bottleneck
What equipment aids batch production?
Overall, when a company is searching for solutions on how to manufacture uniform products that are made on-demand, batch production is a great solution. The manufacturing process can help keep your capital costs low and ensures quality is sustained through the production process.
Typical equipment includes:
- Conveyors (Industrial)
- Hygienic Conveyors (Food)
- Stainless Steel Belt Conveyors
- Robotic Pick and Place
- Robotic Palletising
What are the advantages?
When examining the most suitable manufacturing process, it’s important to look at the advantages and disadvantages of batch production. The advantages include:
- Cheaper to produce a whole batch of a product than a single item at a time
- Machinery can be utilised more efficiently, therefore saving money for the business
- Reduces the risk of concentrating on one product and allows for flexibility
- The overall wastage is reduced by creating the correct number of products required
- Helps with contingency planning (if one batch has been spoiled, the cost is lower to discard that batch as opposed to thousands of products on a continuous cycle)
- Useful for seasonal items due to the ability to order more or less of a particular item
- The machinery isn’t continually active, allowing running costs to be reduced
What are the disadvantages?
Batch production is not suitable for all types of manufacturing, which means the disadvantages should be considered. The disadvantages include:
- Each batch can be subject to meticulous quality control and assurances, potentially causing increased employee downtime
- Increased storage costs for large quantities of produced products
- Errors with the batch produced will incur wasted time and cost
- Periods of downtime where the specialist machinery must be altered. I.e. workers sitting idle and can be considered inefficient if you’re solely relying on the machines for this process
- The product cannot be personalised or unique to an individual customer due to being a batch production process