4 types of production systems for your business

Product demand is never the same and can vary according to unpredictable factors such as fashion. For this reason, there are different types of production systems.

As you know, each production process responds to a different need, since it is not the same to work for a single project as to have to continuously produce an article. Fortunately, for each case there is a production system with its own characteristics.

In this article you will see that, although manufacturing involves complex processes, everything can be simplified when you know the types of production systems that best suit your needs.

Are you interested? Read on!

What is a production system?

While production is simply the transformation of a good or raw material into a product or service, a production system already involves a series of processes to meet this objective.

As we told you in this blog (you can visit the article What is a production process and how it is developed), production systems are organized elements, which involve:
  • People
  • Materials
  • Machinery
  • Management style or procedures
And it is precisely the interaction of these factors that transforms raw materials into a finished product or service ready for sale.

Unlike production, production systems are the sum of several processes that need to be controlled through a method (e.g. MRP), as explained in detail in this article from OBS Business School.

How to classify the types of production systems

The phases and challenges faced by production chains vary considerably according to demand and the type of products.

To respond to this variability, there are at least four types of production systems. In order from the smallest to the largest scale of production, they are:
  • By project
  • Batch
  • Mass
  • Continuous flow
1. Production by project or under order

In this scheme, the manufacturing process generates a specific or customized product for a customer. Therefore, it requires a high dose of planning to adapt to the buyer's needs.

Known by its acronym MTP (make to order), this type of production system is the most punctual and the one that needs your management skills the most. Its main challenges are:
  • Meeting the customer's cost estimate and lead times.
  • Optimize processes so that the cost remains low.
  • Manage human resources, as this system is labor intensive.
Fortunately, the use of an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system that integrates a production module can be of great help.

Because these ERP platforms connect your production process with your company's administration, you control costs and production times at all times. Every movement is immediately reflected in your sales and collection reports.

Whatever type of production systems you follow, an ERP with production module will help you maximize your performance and improve customer service, always delivering on time and under the promised quality conditions.

2. Intermittent or batch production

When it is necessary to create a low quantity of identical products, we are talking about one of the types of intermittent or batch production systems. Generally, this system:

It is also labor intensive.

It works with templates or models to speed up production.

Produces batches of products as often as needed.

It involves replacing or adapting machines more easily than in project-based production.

It should be noted that the same batch can go through different phases. For example, large companies generally operate several plants, in each of which they carry out a specific manufacturing task.

Although more operations can now be optimized in this production process, the challenge remains to adapt to each new order and move each batch through the production system.

3. Mass production

In order to generate large quantities of identical products, mass production systems enable the best performance to be achieved. Here automation is higher and less labor is required, notes this EAE Business School report.

It is common for mass production to be carried out through a production line, i.e. the assembly of individual components. In turn, these parts can be purchased from other companies.

Complement the information by reading the article Master production plan: what is it and how to create it?

4. Linear or continuous flow production

We come to the type of production systems that refers to the largest manufacturing scale, this production system is the continuous flow. Unlike mass production, in this system production is maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Because production is kept constant and repetitive, the chances of eliminating costs and leveraging resources are greater. In addition, inventory levels are minimal because product demand is constant.

In fact, among the types of production systems, this is the one that can be best automated, but it also depends on the type of product being produced.

To find out whether you can use linear or continuous flow production, look at the conditions under which it is most advisable:
  • Demand is substantially high and constant.
  • The product is always the same, it does not change with each order.
  • The operations are well defined, with their production steps and required materials.