Batch Manufacturing: is this the right production process for your business?

Manufacturing
9 min
Batch Manufacturing

Today we will discuss one of the most popular manufacturing processes, batch manufacturing. 

More specifically, we will look at batch manufacturing, why companies use this process, and the advantages and disadvantages. The question here is, is this the proper production process for you?

Batch manufacturing is one of those few production styles that give you the freedom to make changes and produce high-quality products without much trouble.

There are many manufacturing processes businesses can use to produce their products.

Each process has its pros and cons, so it is essential to understand them before deciding which to use for your growing business.

So let's get started with understanding Batch Manufacturing.

What is Batch manufacturing?

Batch Manufacturing is a production process where sets of the same goods are made together. In batch manufacturing, products only move to the next value-added step once all of the products in the lot have completed the previous step. This means that the production process creates a batch of finished goods at a time.

Work orders can have many different operations, but each one is configured to return a group of items. This way is more efficient because it makes less waste. Because of this, it is common for manufacturers to use a lot of machines, with workers mainly at the beginning and end of the process and for quality control.

Batch manufacturing is a term used when referring to the process of making goods by combining different materials together. This is often done in manufacturing operations for items such as food, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. This method can also be used in discrete manufacturing, where products like electronics or industrial equipment are put together from separate parts and can later be taken apart.

First, let's go through the positives. There are both advantages and disadvantages to batch manufacturing.

After all, there must be a reason why it is the most popular form of manufacturing, right? 

Advantages of Batch Manufacturing

Reduces set-up time

Evaluating a manufacturing process's efficiency largely depends on how long it takes. One of the main factors that affect this is the set-up time for a step. This could be setting up a machine or even a team member having to warm up their equipment.

With batch processes, your manufacturing removes the need to keep setting machinery up repeatedly.

This is different from mass production, which does not wait for batches and processes materials as soon as they are ready.

Flexibility 

Batch manufacturing allows companies to produce many different products using the same machinery. It will enable businesses to make small changes to a product batch when a customer asks for it. Batch manufacturing also allows companies to make more or less of a product depending on how many people want it.

Product variations 

Products can be made in large quantities with different colors, sizes, and other things customers might want so that you can configure a more advanced bill of materials. This allows companies to sell to more customers while still being able to make a lot of products.

Managing many different types of products can be very difficult and take up a lot of resources. So, many manufacturers look for an ERP/MRP system with software to help them configure their products.

Greater quality control

As batch manufacturing is a step-by-step process, checking the product's quality between steps and making necessary changes is easy. This would be impossible to do if we were making a lot of products at the same time (mass production). This is because the products would have to move quickly from one stage to the next.

If there are any batches with problems, you can spot them quickly and make a new batch as a replacement. Other manufacturing issues may not become apparent until the end of the line, so batch processes help ensure that your products are high quality.

Cheaper than building single products

It is cheaper to produce batches of the same product than to manufacture single items. This is because bulk materials and labor are more affordable, the process is more efficient, and the general-purpose equipment often requires less capital investment.

Disadvantages of Batch Manufacturing

High WIP inventory levels and storage costs 

If products are moved in groups, then with a group of 50 units and only one unit being processed at a time, the other 49 units will not be used. This happens at every workstation on the shop floor.

Once a step in the production process is complete, there may need to be more space to move the goods to the next stage immediately. This means that the goods must be stored until there is enough space to move them, which takes up more space and requires more people to watch over them.

Mistakes can be costly

If a quality error goes unnoticed, it can ruin an entire batch of products. This wastes materials and time, especially when the product is more expensive.

Downtime 

Batch manufacturing can have a lot of downtimes, for example, when machinery is being changed over, quality checks are being done between steps, or goods are being transferred to and from WIP inventory.

When to use Batch Manufacturing?

Batch manufacturing is an excellent way to make products when:

  • not a lot of the same product is needed at one time, like baked goods, furniture that comes in a box, and low-volume designer items;
  • people keep ordering the same product over and over;
  • there is a demand for the product only at certain times of the year. For example, making large batches of one type of product to sell in the summertime, then changing the machinery to make another type of product for the next season.

Batch Manufacturing examples

Batch manufacturing is a production process that can make many different products. Some examples of things that can be made using batch production are

1. Baked goods

A bakery usually produces many different things simultaneously, like white bread, whole wheat bread, rolls, pastries, and more. They use the same machines to make all of these things.

2. Apparel

Manufacturers usually make clothes in groups or batches. This means that they make a lot of the same products at the same time. For example, a t-shirt can come in different colors and sizes.

3. Flat-pack furniture

One of the most popular furniture brands in the world, Ikea, produces furniture in batches. This means that they make a lot of one kind of furniture at a time before moving on to making something else.

4. Soaps and shampoos

With these types of items, a lot of the product is made at once. Then it is divided into pieces that are the right size for people who buy it.

5. Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical products are similar to chemical products, which are made in batches, divided into smaller parts, and put into containers. They are made in batches, split, and then packaged so people can use them.

6. Electronic components

PCB boards and electronic parts are usually made in batches. This is because they are made using a manufacturing process that creates many items at the same time. For example, computer processors are often made on a single silicon wafer.

7. Electronics 

Even if electronic devices are made in large quantities and parts are put together in a continuous flow at the end, some production steps may be done in small groups. For example, when electronic components are placed on printed circuit boards.

Batch production vs. mass production vs. job shop manufacturing

Batch production is a manufacturing term that describes a group of processes differentiated by size. The other two terms in the group are mass production (products made in large quantities, usually in one continuous flow) and job shop manufacturing (products made one at a time or in small series, often as custom orders). Batch production is considered to be the middle ground between those two.

In addition to the production size of the three types of manufacturing processes, each one is different in some ways:

Mix of products

Batch production has a limited range of products. Job shops can produce a lot of different items that are customized for each customer. Mass production only creates a minimal number of products.

Tools used

Job shops use equipment, devices, and tools that can be used for many different things. Mass production uses equipment, devices, and tools that are only used for one thing. Batch production can use both kinds of equipment, devices, and tools.

Production floor organization

In job shops, workplaces are grouped so that people doing the same task are next to each other. 

In mass production, workstations are placed in the order of the production process. 

In batch production, it is usually a mix of these approaches.

Employee qualifications

Employees at job shops are usually very qualified at their jobs and can do many different things. 

Employees at batch production places usually have average experience and can do a few different things. 

Employees at mass production places generally have less experience and can only do one thing.

Production process development

Job shops plan each step of the production process in less detail than companies who mass produce things. In batch production, the manufacturing process is usually planned in more detail.

Production costs

Job shop manufacturing costs more per unit than the other two types. Mass production is cheaper per unit than a job shop, and batch production is in the middle. Some companies use a mix of all three types depending on what they are making.

Mastering batch manufacturing process  

There are benefits to manufacturing processes, but it can take time to decide which one to use. Once you have chosen one approach, you need to master it.

This is especially important for you if you are a manufacturer who works with small batches. Every process you use can significantly impact your business, so it is essential to look into the details carefully.

Every plan you make can affect your business a lot. That is why you always need to look into the details and know everything about what you are doing.

Ideally, you can use the Brahmin Solutions batch tracking system to get all the necessary information. You can ensure that your manufacturing process is being implemented to reach its maximum potential.

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