What is 'Mass Production'?

Mass production is the manufacture of large quantities of standardized products, frequently using assembly line or automation technology. Mass production refers to the production of a large number of similar products efficiently. Mass production is typically characterized by some type of mechanization, such as an assembly line, to achieve high volume, detailed organization of materials flow, careful control of quality standards and division of labor.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mass Production'

Mass production is also referred to as flow production, repetitive flow production, series production or serial production. The demand for standardized products in large quantities originated from military organizations and their need for uniforms, for example. Precision machining equipment has led to the large-scale demand for mass-produced products created at low cost and with a small workforce. Manufacturers are experimenting with three-dimensional printers to see how they can be used in the mass production of everyday products.

Mass Production and Henry Ford

Henry Ford pioneered the moving assembly line in 1913. The reduced manufacturing time for parts allowed Ford to apply the same method to chassis assembly. By 1915, Ford had reduced the time it took to produce an automobile by 90%. This resulted in automobiles that were substantially more affordable for the general public.

Benefits of Mass Production

Mass production, if stringently monitored, typically results in the high-accuracy assembly as production line machines have fixed parameters. Labor costs are often lower for mass-produced products; assembly line production with automated processes requires fewer workers.

Products that are mass-produced are assembled at a quicker rate due to increased automation and efficiency. This helps with prompt distribution and marketing of an organization's products with the potential to create a competitive advantage and higher profits. For example, McDonald's has a competitive advantage due to the speed at which it can produce a meal for the time-conscious customer.

Disadvantages of Mass Production

Mass production may result in wasted resources. Establishing an automated assembly line is typically capital-intensive; if there is a production design error, extensive costs may be required to redesign and rebuild mass production processes. Additionally, if one area of mass production is interrupted, the entire production process may be affected.

Employees that are part of a mass production assembly line may lack motivation because tasks are repetitive. This may lead to low employee morale and increased levels of turnover. Mass production may stifle flexibility; production processes can be cumbersome and expensive to change. For example, if a pharmaceutical company has a comprehensive assembly line in place for the production of a popular drug, it would be difficult to respond to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory change that requires the production process to be altered.

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