The success of your manufacturing business will depend on many factors and one, particularly important factor is the type of manufacturing process you use.
Batch production is one of the most known production processes as it offers many advantages and it’s very versatile. However, it’s not suitable for any business and you shouldn’t be choosing it blindly. For this reason, in this article, we’re going to dig into the batch production process to understand what it is and what its main advantages and disadvantages are.
What is Batch Production?
As the name suggests, batch production is a manufacturing method where products are made at the same time, instead of one at a time. This approach is suitable for companies of all sizes, especially those who need smaller amounts of production for specific quality insurance standards or to monitor changes in the process; it isn’t however suitable for small crafters who create unique, handmade items.
Batches and the entire process are triggered by customers’ demands. Unlike the continuous manufacturing methods, where production lines run 24/7, production lines or areas in the batch process only work if there is an order placed or forecasted.
Any batch can therefore be customized according to the requests of the particular order. In the batch manufacturing process, multiple products are created or assembled at the same type. The same goes for different versions of the same product (for example an item available in many colors): all the variants are manufactured at the same time as opposed to one at a time.
Is batch production suitable for your manufacturing company?
In order to help you understand whether batch production is suitable for your company, we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of manufacturing process. You can then see if they align with your needs and understand if the pros exceed the cons.
Advantages of batch production
1. Optimized running costs
With this method, manufacturing costs are optimized in many ways. When compared to the continuous process, batch manufacturing does not require machines to work all day long. You also don’t risk exceeding the item production over the sales or order requirements, so your resources are always optimized.
Smaller companies sometimes choose to avoid the production in batches and to craft their products one by one. However, with batch production, you can save money by buying raw materials and all the necessary supplies in bulk.
2. Optimized resource and reduced waste
In manufacturing processes, there is always room for errors. This is where batch production offers a great advantage when compared to the alternatives.
When the production is broken down into small batches there is less waste, any time one of the production lines gets interrupted because of an error, for example. Also, if one line produces defective items, you’d only waste a small number of batches instead of the entire production line.
Furthermore, with batch production, resources are also optimized because they are used in many areas and in more than one production line.
When based on batch production, your entire company can be more flexible. It’s easier to adapt the manufacturing processes to produce a new trending item, for instance; or, you can easily make changes to products you’re already making, because say, now red covers are trending instead of green.
If you want to keep your company flexible so that it can promptly respond to the changes of the market, you should avoid the continuous production process, and consider the batch method instead.
Disadvantages of Batch Production
1. High setup costs
Setting up a batch manufacturing process can be expensive. You need a large location, with many workstations, and also entire production lines that work simultaneously.
The initial cost is however retrieved with time, as batch production allows for very high production rates. Once you’ve found your clients and start having orders, you’ll be able to fulfill them extremely fast.
Furthermore, while the setup costs are higher than smaller production methods, they are in any case lower than the ones required to set up a continuous production process.
Reconfiguring the production system to manufacture a different item can result in downtime. To overcome this issue, you should analyze the different steps that take place during this phase and optimize them to reduce the downtime as much as possible.
3. Additional labor is sometimes required
When you have a continuous production line that is always working, the labor you pay is the one that leads to the production of items. But, with batch production, you may need to move machines or other equipment from one working area to another. This requires labor, so take into account that the labor you pay for with batch production is not only the one that leads to more production; you must expect additional work for the setup and changeover of the working areas or production lines.
To conclude, batch production isn’t suitable for any manufacturing company. However, its characteristics fit a great number of different needs, production requirements, and management. When deciding how to configure the production for your company, you should consider all types of manufacturing processes, their advantages and disadvantages, and adopt the ones you can customize for your own needs.