Serial production is used when there is a demand for a large number of products that must be made in exactly the same way. It differs from single-unit production by the number of products, and from mass production by the lack of work continuity.
What are the types of production by cycle length?
There are three main types of production organization by volume: serial production, mass production and single-unit production. In each of these, processes are implemented in a slightly different way. The most important differences primarily result from the target volume of manufactured items, as well as the length of the production cycle. The implications include differences in how often the workstation needs to be rearmed. The characteristics of serial production are mainly a long and stabilized production cycle, a low degree of mechanization of work and periodicity.
Mass production vs. serial production
Serial production refers to the manufacture of a series of goods manufactured in an identical manner. During the process, they move from one station to another, remaining in constant motion, just as they do during mass production. Despite the many similarities between the two models, one important difference should be pointed out. With mass production, the production of components is continuous, but with serial production, a specific batch of goods is produced, followed by a downtime. After the downtime, the machines may be prepared to produce brand-new components and be restarted or stopped altogether until the next order comes in.
Serial production can be further divided into several other subcategories based on its characteristics, including one-time, repetitive, rhythmic and non-rhythmic production. A division by the number of goods produced is also used. It is then referred to as low-volume, medium-volume and high-volume production.
High volume production – application examples
The goal of high volume production is to produce a large number of products of one type, at uniform intervals and in a stabilized manner. It is characterized by short production cycles and low costs. This approach is used primarily in the aerospace, confectionery, apparel, automotive and home appliance industries. Cars, motorcycles, refrigerators, washing machines and clothes, among others, are produced this way.
Medium and small volume production
Medium and small volume production is characterized by a smaller number of manufactured products. Such solutions are used, among others, in the case of incremental manufacturing. The use of 3D printing in manufacturing processes makes it possible to produce complex components without the need for numerous tools and planning of individual operations. 3D printing technology is most often used for pre-production series (e.g. pilot and test series), as well as for short production runs of final products.
Medium and small batch production is also used in the automotive industry. An example is the production of car seats and their components, such as headrests and car armrests.
Single-unit production (short prototype series)
Single-unit production is used to manufacture unique, one-of-a-kind products, as well as solutions with low market demand. It is characterized by very high costs, which sometimes are several times higher than the cost of producing the same item in serial or mass production. Other important features of single-unit production include long lead times, a low degree of mechanization and automation, and serial flow. The single-unit type of production is often used for short prototype series. An example is plastic injection molding technology, or more specifically, prototyping before the injection process.
Choosing the production method for a product in the automotive industry
In order to correctly choose the type of production for a product, it is necessary to conduct a feasibility study. This is a procedure that consists of an analysis of the costs, feasibility and profitability of a particular project, or in the case under consideration, the production of a particular product. First, it is worth determining whether it is even possible to manufacture the component in question. This is particularly important in the automotive sector, where a feasibility study should be conducted even before the technical analysis. Such an analysis is another important element of the design for manufacturing (DFM) approach, which translates into production improvements and cost reductions. The factory of the future in the automotive sector should use the best solutions for both production and planning.
How to choose a supplier of mass-produced plastic parts?
When looking for a supplier of series-produced plastic automotive parts, it is important to pay special attention to the purpose, safety and quality of the products offered. Plastic automotive parts must be reliable and fully compliant with current standards. These requirements are met by components from the Knauf Automotive product range. Our company is part of the international Knauf Group family – we can provide customers with an innovative, wide range of products for the automotive industry. We specialize in processes such as foamed plastic molding and plastic injection molding of components.