Types of Production System

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All production systems, when perceived at the most abstract outlook, can be deemed to be “transformation processes i.e., processes that convert resources into useful goods and services. The transformation process normally utilises resources such as labour, capital (for machinery and equipment, materials, etc.), and space (land, buildings, etc.) to effect a change.

Types of Production System

Economists name these resources as the factors of production. Meanwhile, production managers tend to call them as the “five M’s”: men, machines, methods, materials and money. There are two primary types of production systems namely intermittent production system and continuous production system.

Intermittent Production Systems

Intermittent refers to something that begins and ends at irregular intervals of time. In this production system, goods and services are produced based on customer orders to fulfil their needs rather than keeping them stored for future transactions. Production facilities used are flexible enough to produce wider varieties of goods based on the orders and other requirements of customers.

For example, a tailor works based on the number of orders received from his/her customers. Accordingly, he/she stitches clothes for every customer independently as per the measurement and size of every individual customer. Thus, it can be said that stitching is not done on a continuous basis. And, stitched clothes (i.e. goods in this example) are made on a limited scale and the production is directly proportional to the number of orders received from customers.

The following are the industries where the intermittent production system is used:

  • Hospitals
  • Workshop
  • Film making
  • Building and bridge construction
  • Furniture manufacturing companies

Furthermore, the intermittent production systems can be divided into the following:

  • Producing goods in smaller quantities
  • Companies with unbalanced workloads
  • Large inventory processing centers
  • Inventories with high process
  • Organisations with high skilled processes carrying varied design works
  • Highly flexible production system
  • Workplaces with frequent changes in the planning process and scheduling
  • Industries with higher production cost units

Types of Intermittent Production System

Job or Unit Production System

The production system where the single job unit is processed and completed by one particular group of workers at a time according to the customers. This mainly includes the organisation sections such as furniture, making bridges where the products and services differ based on the customer requirement.

Batch Production System

The system where the production is done on batch modes i.e., a huge number of similar products are manufactured following the order of the customer or based on the future customer demand. And, the second batch will differ from the first batch and starts production only after the task completion of the first batch. Some examples of this batch production system include manufacturing of pharmacy products, the printing of books, electronic goods, etc.

Continuous Production System

The other type of production system is the continuous production system, which means the system that operates constantly without frequent stops or irregularities. In this production system, the products are constantly produced based on demand and forecasts. The products are manufactured on a larger scale for sale and storage purposes, and not at the customer’s request. The inputs and outputs in this system are standardised together with the process of production and the sequence.

For example, the production system of the food industry is based on the demand forecast. The production of food is done on a large scale and on a continuous basis. Similarly, in the fuel industry, large-scale production and processing of crude oil and other raw sources takes place on a continuous basis to get the usable form of fuel and compensate global energy demand.

Now, let’s have a look at the characteristics of the continuous production system:

  • Continuous production system carried out based on the sales forecast and completed goods

  • Regulation of inputs, products and processes are performed

  • No storing of Work in Process (WIP) goods between two processes is done.

  • Due to the constant standardised process, the system is flexible to plan, schedule and production control activities.

Difference Between Intermittent and Continuous Production Systems

Table distinguishes between intermittent production system and continuous production system:

S. NoFeatureIntermittent Production SystemContinuous Production System
1.Nature of productGoods are purchased based on the customer requirement.Goods are purchased based on future transaction and stocking purposes.
2.Process flexibilityFlexible production process and can be changed any moment.Constant process and cannot be changed repeatedly.
3.Production ScaleSmall scale goods production with no economies.Goods are produced in larger scales and therefore, exists economies.
4.Unit costThe cost of production may be high due to production on smaller scales.Production cost is low due to large-scale production.
Manufactures a wide range of products.Only particular product types are manufactured.
6.StaffThe staff here is with high technical abilities.Here managerial skills are limited when compared with intermittent.
7.InstructionsDeals with short-term instructions as the products are limited.Requires long-term plans as it involves manufacturing a larger amount of production.
8.Final product
No need to store the products for future transactionsNeed to store the goods and the final products till the customer orders
Location change can be done easilyIt is difficult to change the location
10.Invested capitalLess capital investmentInvolves huge capital investment

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