A current global trend is the change of industrial production methods from batch processing to continuous flow processing. By doing so, firms can realize significant production improvements. However, the change is highly expensive and complex, and thus should be done at the discretion of Operating Directors.
Although there are major advantages to switching from batch processing, it is highly advocated to understand the feasibility of the change particular to each firm.
In batch production lines, small quantities of identical products are made. It may be labour intensive, however templates are used to aid production. The machinery can also be modified to change the design and tooling to produce a different batch of products. This eases the manufacture of a variety of outputs, and reduces the initial capital outlay since a single production line can produce multiple products. Batch processing can be found useful in a manufacturing firm that produces seasonal products.
Having recognized the advantages of batch processing, it is more appropriate for smaller firms due to its financial benefit. Some examples of industries that use batch processing are food and beverages, pharmaceutical, paints, fertilizer, and cement.
In continuous flow production, many identical products are produced, but at a larger scale. The production line is kept running for 24 hours a day, every day of the week to remove extra costs between production, and maximizing production. It can produce materials without interference at a continuous flow. This increases productivity and quality because errors are detected easily, as well as infrequent maintenance shut downs. It is also more efficient as there is less idle material and reduces cost due to fewer inventories. However, precise control is necessary to maintain product quality and operational safety.
The continuous flow production method is more suited for larger corporations that want to produce at a larger capacity. These firms can also afford the expensive nature of continuous flow processing. Examples that use this type of production lines are assembling industries.
Despite the differences between batch and continuous flow processing, they both use analog data extensively. Analog data is data that is represented in continuous form and can be temperature, rate of flow, pressure or any measure suitable to the output. This will lead to a closed loop control system used by both processes. A control system bridges the gap between the desired results and measured results to perform corrective action.