What is Mass Production?
Mass production is the manufacturing of the same standardized product lines for a prolonged period of time. It uses automation or assembly lines to facilitate the high volume production of similar products.
Mass production is synonymous with continuous flow production or series reduction. The concept is identified with the rise in modern capitalism that succeeded in the Industrial Revolution. Mass production commonly uses mechanization to achieve labor division, high volume, monitoring and quality control, and material flow.
- Mass production is the industrial technique to produce large quantities of similar products in constant flows on production lines.
- The strategy focuses on low-cost production by using standardized and repetitive processes to manufacture the same line of products.
- Companies incur a significant investment in terms of time and money to achieve mass production.
How Mass Production Works
Mass production involves multiple assembly lines, where various people run routine procedures and do one specific job. The same equipment is used to perform the identical operation on a batch of products being manufactured.
For the efficiency of the labor process, companies use differentiation, formalization, and specialization. The rationale behind such principles is to keep manufacturing costs low by using repetitive and standardized processes to produce uniform products.
The evolution and innovation of sophisticated technologies play a great role in making manufacturing less complicated. The large-scale demand for mass-produced products manufactured at a low cost using a minimal workforce is achieved using precision machining equipment.
Mass Customization vs. Mass Production
Mass customization involves providing end-users with what suits their needs at a lower cost. Thus, products that meaningfully meet customer’s needs are customized on a large scale. The conventional firms that deal with mass customization call for flexibility, responsiveness, and the configuration of units, processes, people, and environments to provide uniquely customized products that meet user requirements at a relatively low cost.
Mass customization focuses on markets with fragmented customer segments and with customer’s preferences being harder to hypothesize and prone to changes. More intimate knowledge about end-users and higher profits creates a feedback loop system, which can help companies provide even better and different products.
In contrast, mass production is the forerunner of mass customization. Mass production companies replicate a hierarchical and bureaucratic system where workers perform repetitive roles that are narrowly defined, resulting in standardized, low-cost products.
Consumers generally accept standard products under a mass-production system. On a mass basis, companies manufacturing goods benefit from economies of scale since it facilities market expansion and price reduction. The low product pricing encourages demand clusters around homogenous products. It acts as a feedback loop that reinforces standardized products to the manufacturing firms, given the interplay between consumers and producers.
However, the two concepts are viewed to be on a continuum of continuous improvement. A company may also practice mass customization and mass production, albeit in two different factories meant for different market segments.
Advantages of Mass Production
1. High precision rate
Mass production can result in a high-precision rate if production is strictly monitored and validated using present parameters.
2. Low production costs
It is also associated with low production costs because the mechanization eliminates redundant job roles, thus requiring fewer workers.
3. Higher efficiency levels
Additionally, mass production can lead to higher efficiency levels since automation assembles mass-produced items faster. It also gives firms a competitive edge and higher profitability because the rapid assembly helps in the faster distribution and marketing of products.
Disadvantages of Mass Production
First, mass production requires automated assembly lines, which is capital-intensive and requires large sums of investments to set up and maintain. Only companies with a large capital outlay can implement mass production in their manufacturing process.
2. Requires constant upgrades
Second, mass production systems require upgrading and new improvements to keep up with the latest innovations in the market. A typical scenario can be seen in a pharmaceutical firm that manufactures popular drug products on a comprehensive assembly line. If a different production process is required due to regulatory changes, the company will be required to incur significant investment in time and money to adopt a new assembly line.
3. Low employee morale and increased employee turnover
Lastly, mass production is associated with low employee morale and increased levels of employee turnover due to the repetitive nature of the production process.
An early example of mass production dates back to 1913 when Henry Ford pioneered the first assembly line technique for his famous Ford Model T. Ford’s automobiles became available at a lower price because of the efficiency of the method.
Initially, the assembly lines were segmented to allow each worker to work on a single step before accelerating the process using a mechanized belt. It saw the innovative production approach realize the reduced time it took to build the Model T automobile from 12 hours to two and a half hours. Automobile companies still use Ford’s mass production method for rapid manufacturing.
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