Most businesses that manufacture products use more than one type of manufacturing environment to get a single product out the door. For business owners who are considering making manufacturing a part of their business model, getting to know the environment options is a must.
Keep reading to learn more about the most popular manufacturing environments and processes used today.
Increasing Efficiency and Productivity
To achieve the highest level of productivity and efficiency in the manufacturing process possible, it is often necessary to use several of these environments/processes together. Utilizing innovative technology, such as the custom ablation processes, can help improve efficiency significantly.
It’s up to each business owner to determine what environments and types of technology to include. Keep reading to learn about the specific types of environments used.
This category, with a few exceptions, is commonly described as having a dedicated production line that processes the same item, or one in a closely related family. It runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long.
Slowing down or speeding up the operation is possible and corresponds with customer demand. There isn’t much set-up or changeover activity, due to the likeness of the products being produced.
If maximum line speed is unable to meet demand, a second line is added. If the demand isn’t high enough for a second line, it is achieved by a second line operating in the Discrete mode (described below), which also manufactures other products.
This is a highly diverse manufacturing environment (unlike repetitive, which focuses on a single product or like products). It covers a range from frequent set-ups and changeovers to few set-ups and changeovers.
The products made in this environment may be alike, or they could be highly disparate. The more unlike products made on the line, the longer the unproductive set-up and tear-down time.
Usually, job shops don’t have production lines; instead, they have production areas. The area in question may assemble a single version of a product, a dozen different versions, or even several dozen.
If demand increases, the operation is then turned into the discrete line environment, and various types of automated equipment replace the selected labor operations.
Understanding Manufacturing Processes at Both Ends
The three environments mentioned here are the continuum for software-driven, electronic, and electromechanical hardware products. One end of manufacturing is continuous, and the other is extremely intermittent.
Designers in charge of the continuous end can’t be versed only in product design, but also how to design process equipment. For repetitive production, most lines are dominated and run by automated equipment.
The majority of production personnel don’t ever touch the product itself. Their role is to manage and oversee the equipment to ensure it functions properly.
Designers handling the Discrete end of manufacturing with Job Shop being the maximum example of Discreet, it’s important for them to be well-versed in product design and know when to involve equipment rather than labor for production purposes.
Creating a Successful Manufacturing Environment
As anyone can see, creating the perfect manufacturing environment requires a deep understanding of the most common processes, how they work, and the role of workers versus equipment. While this may seem confusing at first, once a business owner dives further into the manufacturing industry, they can understand how these environments work together to meet customer demand and provide superior levels of productivity and efficiency.
Going Forward into The Future
How will certain technologies change the landscape of manufacturing in the future? It’s a little outside the scope of this article, but we asked a business owner from My Direct Blinds, a window treatment manufacturer based out in Australia.
“We have several employees that oversee our automated repetitive window blind production line. We’re hoping AI can help us in the near future to further automate this, without having to involve the human element is a manufacturing wet dream. I think within the next decade we’re going to see a drastic shift as manufacturing is further impacted by AI and automation.”