Mass production is the manufacture of large quantities of standardized products often using assembly lines or automation technology. Mass production refers to the efficient production of a large number of similar products. Mechanization is used to achieve high volume, detailed organization of material flow, careful control of quality standards, and division of labor.
Advantages of Mass Production
If the production is stringently monitored, mass production results in a precision assembly as production line machines have set parameters. Labor costs are often lower for mass-produced products. This cost savings is from the automated assembly line production processes requiring fewer workers.
Further, assembly of mass-produced products is at a quicker rate due to increased automation and efficiency. This rapid assembly aids the 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 time-conscious customers.
Disadvantages of Mass Production
However, not everything about mass production is beneficial. Establishing an automated assembly line is capital-intensive requiring significant time and resources up front. If there is a production design error, an extensive investment may be necessary to redesign and rebuild mass production processes. Changes also may be required for reasons other than errors. 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 requiring a different production process. Additionally, if one area of mass production is interrupted, the entire production process may be affected.
While mass production can save on labor costs, employees who remain as part of an assembly line may lack motivation because tasks are repetitive. The boredom caused by repetitive work can lead to low employee morale and increased levels of turnover.
- Mass production also is referred to as flow production, repetitive flow production, series production or serial production.
- An early example of the demand for standardized products in large quantities came from military organizations and their need for uniforms and other supplies.
- Precision machining equipment has led to large-scale demand for mass-produced products created at low cost with small workforces.
- Manufacturers are experimenting with the integration of three-dimensional printers in the mass production of everyday products.
Real World Example of Mass Production
Henry Ford pioneered the moving assembly line in 1913 for the production of the Model T automobile. The reduced manufacturing time for parts allowed Ford to apply the same method to chassis assembly. According to "History.com," the time it took to build a Model T immediately dropped from more than 12 hours to 2.5 hours.
Ford continued to refine the process, even hiring someone who studied the way people moved most efficiently. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford built 15 million Model T cars. Ford's mass production resulted in automobiles that were substantially more affordable for the general public as opposed to luxury items that only a limited number of people could afford.
Henry Ford’s inventive production method continues to be the go-to method of production when rapid, standardized product creation is necessary. In March 2019 “DigitalTimes.com” reported that Apple’s release of the next-generation iPad and AirPods caused manufacturers to gear-up their production to meet expected product demand.