Characteristics of Intermittent and Continuous Manufacturing

Type of plant:

Process layout is most suited:

Product layout designed according to a separate line for each product is considered.

Type of machines:

As it necessitates frequent changes in the machine set-up required by the specification of each order, the general purpose machines are more suitable.

As the production flow is permanently set in the form of product line the special purpose machines are used.

Type of labor:

This type of production presupposes frequent changes in product in product design and machine set up and thus requires highly skilled workers.

The manufacturing activity becomes a routine function and so is carried on by he unskilled workers. The specialized team of plant maintenance looks after the repair and maintenance of the machines.

No of products & product designs:

Wide range of products is manufactured in small quantities. The product design changes from lot to lot according to the product specifications.

Few standard products are manufactured in large quantities. Usually the product line is geared to only two or three products of standard design.

Changes in the machines set up:

As the specifications of each order changes, the machines are set according to the requirements of each order. Thus, frequent changes in the machines set up are a common phenomenon.

Under this type of manufacturing, the set up of the machines remains unchanged for a longer period. The standard products are manufactured in a continuous flow.

Nature and size of the order:

Generally the unrepeated small size of orders is received for un-standardized products. The order may involve the production of a single product or the identical products in limited lot. Usually the production is carried on according to order. First the orders are received and then they are translated into the actual production.

Generally the production is carried on for stock. The production is made of standardized products and so they are produced in anticipation of demand. Like intermittent production, there does not arise any problem about non-repeat orders or orders for un-standardized products.

Investments in machines & equipment:

As the machines are arranged according to process layout less machines are required.

The machines are arranged according to the product layout. So it results in duplication of machines. Moreover, it is essential to maintain stand by equipment to meet any breakdowns resulting in production stoppages. Thus investment in machines is fairly high.

Investment in inventories:

It necessitates the reservoir of processed inventories and components in sub-stores. Moreover, waiting and bottlenecks slow down the operating cycle. As a result, the investment in inventories increases.

Due to continuous flow of production, the need for the sub-storing of processed inventories is reduced to the minimum. Similarly the operating cycle is very fast reducing the necessity for the locking up of the in process inventories.

Material handling equipment:

As the in process materials are required to travel on varied routes, it is not feasible to employ mechanized material handling equipment.

Due to the movement of in process materials between fixed points, it is possible to use mechanized material handling equipment. Mostly the materials are handled through conveyor belts, roller conveyors, pipelines, overhead cranes etc. Under the automation, the materials are automatically handled from one machine to the next one.

Material handling cost:

The material handling cost tends to be high due to long distance, backtracking, movements of non-standard lots and lack of mechanization of material handling services.

The materials handling cost is less due to line balancing forward movement of materials and use of mechanized material handling equipment.

Plant maintenance services:

It is desirable to have the plant maintenance services for repairs, maintenance and replacements. However, like continuous production, there is no danger of the stoppage of whole line.

It is highly essential to have a sound plant maintenance services with a view to avoid any interruptions in the production flow.

Balancing in the production capacity:

The existence of imbalance in the production department is likely to exist in such production resulting in the under loading or over loading of work on men and machines

It is possible to ensure the perfect balance in the production line. The chance of overloading or under loading on men and machines are very little.

The production planning and control:

The function of routine scheduling, dispatching and follow up become relatively complicated due to odd size of the order, non-repetitive nature of the order and awkward delivery dates resulting in im-balancing in the production capacity.

The routing scheduling, dispatching and follow up functions are carried on smoothly due to the standard production under rated capacity carried on in anticipation.