What is Production Process?
The production process refers to the set of activities and procedures that are used to transform raw materials and other inputs into finished goods or services. It involves a series of steps, each of which contributes to the overall production of a product or service.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Production Process?
- 2 Process of Production of Product
- 3 Types of Production Processes
What is Process?
A process is a group of related tasks with specific inputs and outputs. No product/service can be made without a process and no process can exist without at least one product/service. In other words, a product is the final output of a process. Let us first discuss the concept of a product.
Product, here, refers to a good or service that satisfies the needs and wants of customers. It is offered in the market by an organization to earn revenue by meeting the requirements of customers. Product is an asset of an organization and is referred to as the backbone of the marketing mix. Therefore, an organization needs to understand the needs of customers before developing the product.
For example, some customers use mobile phones mostly for talking purposes, whereas some use them for talking as well as for browsing the Internet. Some customers also use mobile phones for business purposes, such as teleconferencing. Therefore, you can say that a product is anything capable of satisfying a felt need.
For a manufacturer, a product is a result of various processes or operations. It is the manufacturer who determines the processes and operations which are deployed to create the product. Process decisions are often strategic and no organization can achieve a competitive advantage with a faulty process. A process explains what tasks need to be done and how they should be coordinated with other functions, people, and organizations.
Processes are developed to create value for customers, shareholders, or society as a whole. They depict an organization’s overall approach to physically producing products and services. Thus, processes work as a strategy and reflect how the organization has chosen to compete in the marketplace, support product decisions and facilitate the achievement of corporate goals and objectives.
Developing a Process Strategy
An organization requires developing a process strategy for:
- Vertical Integration: It refers to the extent to which an organization aims to produce inputs and control the output of each stage of the production process.
- Capital Intensity: It refers to the amount of capital and labor resources that are required to be used in the production process.
- Process Flexibility: It denotes the ease with which resources are adjusted against the changes in the market demand, technology, product/service, and resource availability.
- Customer Involvement: It defines the role of customers in the production process.
Process of Production of Product
While developing a product, an organization evaluates processes in the laboratory as well as in the open market. The results of these testing processes reveal the fittest design of the product.
Let us discuss the processes involved in the production of a product:
- Need Identification Process
- Product Planning Process
- Product Design Process
- Engineering Design Process
- Production Development Process
- Product Evaluation and Improvement
- Product Use and Support Development Process
Need Identification Process
Identifying the need for a product enables an organization to ensure that the new product fulfills consumer needs that the existing product cannot fulfill.
Product Planning Process
This involves developing a conceptual design of the product. The concept design is finalized by the production and operation personnel. Their joint effort would also help design and test the new production process early in the development process.
Product Design Process
This provides detailed knowledge through the use of intense research conducted to determine the technical feasibility of the product. Then, certain parameters are used to define the fittest design. This is one test that all the available alternative designs have to pass through.
Engineering Design Process
This involves performing engineering activities to develop a detailed definition of the product, including its subsystems and components, materials, sizes, etc. These engineering activities include analysis, experimentation, and data collection to find out the design that meets design objectives, such as functions, reliability, and safety.
Production Development Process
This process involves manufacturing specialists and engineers preparing plans for material acquisition, production, warehousing, transportation, and distribution. Planning for other supporting systems for controls, information, and human resources also come under this process.
Product Evaluation and Improvement
It is not simply enough to launch the product. The product needs constant evaluation and improvement to survive in the market. This process involves collecting different types of data related to product failure and technical breakthroughs in materials. Moreover, necessary actions are taken to improve the product as early as possible.
Product Use and Support Development Process
This process involves developing a support system that will educate the users of the product about its specific applications and provide warranty, repair, and replacement (in case of major faults depending on organizational policies) services.
Types of Production Processes
In production, processes can be classified into four types. Let us discuss these different types of processes in detail.
A project is a pre-determined set of activities with a defined beginning and ends to achieve a unique goal. It is a temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a unique product, service, or result; usually one item at a time. A project is temporary in the sense that it is a pre-determined set of activities with a definite beginning and a definite end.
Each project is unique because it seeks to produce a product, service, or result that is markedly different from all other similar products or services. Therefore a project is highly customized in nature and serves the need of a particular customer. Due to its characteristics, a project usually takes a long time to complete.
Moreover, it involves a large investment of funds and resources to produce custom orders.
A project is a non-routine activity conducted by organizations and individuals to achieve specific goals. For example, if an organization wants to find out the causes of the decline in its sales, it may survey to collect customer feedback and determine the reasons for such decline. This survey, which is a non-routine activity, is an example of a project. It has a specific goal of determining the causes behind the decline in its sales.
Projects can be small or large, simple or complex. They can be classified based on various parameters, such as size (small, medium, and large), level of complexity (easy, moderate, and complex), location (national or international), nature (industrial or non-industrial), and industry segments (cement projects, telecommunication projects, refinery projects, steel projects, and fertilizer projects).
Irrespective of the type, all projects consist of several activities. Let us take the example of the customer survey project mentioned earlier. This project may include functions such as defining the sample group, determining the sample size, designing a questionnaire, getting the questionnaire filled by the target customers, taking personal interviews (if applicable), analyzing the feedback of customers, making a report, etc.
These activities can further be divided into tasks. For example, the activity of designing questionnaires may involve tasks such as performing research on the suitability of various types of questionnaires, finalizing the questions, inserting the questions in the Word processor, getting the questionnaires printed, etc.
Thus, a project involves numerous activities and tasks that need to be executed to achieve the objectives of the project. However, the number of activities and tasks involved in a project depends on the nature and scope of the project. For example, a market survey project involves fewer activities compared to a new airport construction project.
As every project has a unique goal, it intends to serve some specific objectives of an organization. For example, highway projects undertaken by construction organizations are different in terms of scope, time involved, and requirement of resources as compared to any other product development project undertaken by an organization.
Making products made to customer order. The process is characterized by fluctuating demand and low order volume. Printers, bakeries, machine shops, etc. are a few examples of batch production. one-at-a-time (as in the case of projects) can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.
To deal with this issue, the batch production process can be used, which performs different jobs through the production system at the same time in batches or groups. In other words, batch production is a production system that processes items in small groups or batches. In batch production, products are usually.
Most operations in batch production involve ‘making’ rather than ‘assembling’. Depending on processing requirements, jobs are sent through the system. For example, jobs requiring lathe work are sent to one location, jobs requiring painting are sent to another location, and so forth. Thus, a job may be routed through many different machine centers before it is finished.
Mass production is used by producers who create more standardized products in larger quantities. In other words, mass production is used to produce a large number of standardized products for the mass market.
As the products are made to stock for a mass market, mass production is characterized by stable demand and high product volume. Because of the steadiness and volume of demand, the production system tends to be capital-intensive and highly repetitive, with specialized equipment and limited labor skills.
Mass production involves the following manufacturing process arrangements:
- Flow Lines: Flow lines describe how a product moves (through the system) from one workstation to the next in order of the processing requirements. This is different from batch production as in batch production the processing requirements are different for each customer order.
- Assembly Lines: An Assembly line denotes the way of arranging the mass production system. In mass production, most operations are assembly-oriented and are performed in a line.
Examples of products that are mass-produced include automobiles, televisions, personal computers, fast food, and consumer goods.
Such a production process is used to produce a large volume of highly standardized products. The system is highly automated and operations are performed continuously 24 hours a day. The output is also continuous, and the produced units are measured, rather than counted. Steel, paper, paints, chemicals, etc. are a few examples of products produced by continuous production. Organizations involved in continuous production are referred to as process industries.
Continuous production is characterized by highly efficient output, ease of control, and enormous capacity of the system. However, it also suffers from certain disadvantages, such as huge investment in plant and equipment, limited variety of products, the inability of the system to adapt to volume changes, huge cost involvement in correcting errors in production, and difficulties in keeping pace with new technology.
Thus, as you move from project to continuous production, the following features can be observed:
- Demand volume increases
- Products become more standardized
- Systems become more capital intensive
- Systems become more automated
- Systems become less flexible
- Customer involvement becomes less
|Project||Batch Production||Mass Production||Continuous Production|
|Customer type||One at a time||Few individual customers||Mass market||Mass market|
|Product demand||Occasional||Fluctuates||Stable||Highly stable|
|Demand volume||Very low||Low to medium||High||Very high|
|Variety of products||Infinite variety||Varied||Few||Very few|
|Production system||Long-term projects||Discrete||Assembly lines||Continuous|
|Equipment||Wide-ranging||General purpose||Special purpose||Highly automated|
|Type of work||Specialized contracts||Fabrication||Assembly||Mixing, treating, refining|
|Required labor skills||Experts||Wide range of skills||Limited range skills||Equipment monitors|
|Advantages||Customized work, use of the latest technology||Flexibility, focus on quality||High-speed production, efficiency, low cost||Large capacity, highly efficient, ease of control|
|Disadvantages||Expensive, non-repetitive, small customer base||Expensive, not easy to manage, slow process flow||Capital investment, lack of responsiveness||Difficult to change, high cost involved in correcting the errors, limited variety|
|Example||Construction, aircraft manufacturing, shipbuilding, etc.||Print shops, bakeries, education, etc.||Televisions, computers, fast food, etc.||Paint, chemicals, steels, etc.|