Today the manufacturing process is far from what we know of them. The advancement of technologies like 3D printing and CNC machining change the way products produced and customer’s expectations for production lead times have become shorter than ever. The complexity of the designs and the demand for customization are also changing the face of manufacturing. These changes have resulted in a gradual shift from mass production to low volume manufacturing.
There is no definite standard on the quantity to define the volume of production. What can be a low-volume for some is already on the mass production level for others. It is subjective and can be defined only by the company. Here are the benefits that we can get from low volume production.
Contrary to popular belief, not everything in bulk can save you money. It can be true for household supplies like tissue paper but not in manufacturing where the cost of each unit depends on the materials used. In the case of steel, why use highly durable steel, with a high cost when the final product is not subjected to a lot of stress? You can use a less durable material that is more suitable for the low volume manufacturing process. You can save on the costs and will still have a high-quality part.
Moreover, large volume production requires a minimum order to offset the costs of production. Low volume production has a smaller overhead, and you can order any quantity of the product saving you money in the process.
Low-volume manufacturing just like 3D printing and rapid prototyping all offer design flexibility which high volume manufacturing cannot do. Since the products are made in small quantities, the whole order is not affected if modifications on the design are done along the way. One of its benefits is the consumer will get hold of a product that has undergone perfection while being made.
Furthermore, consumer feedback can also help refine the products, and multiple variations can be made available to consumers. Companies can choose the fast-moving variant and concentrate on producing them rather than having many non-moving inventories.
Faster Time to Reach the Market
It is a very competitive market out there, and companies should be able to be always the first to come up with a new product. The fickle minded consumers have put pressure on product developers and designers to create unique and high quality products in the shortest time possible. A company that can optimize a low-volume manufacturing supply chain will allow products to hit the shelves faster as compared to using the traditional manufacturing model.
Bridge the Gap
For companies with the intention of using mass production in their long term plan, low-volume manufacturing can act as the bridge between product prototyping and the full scale manufacturing phase. In connecting with the faster lead time to reach to the market, producing at low volume can bring the products and ideas to the consumers quicker, and then simplify the best practices and improve the product quality. As a result, it will have further cost-savings before going full blast on mass producing them.
Low-volume manufacturing will continue to improve with all the technologies and innovations along with its capabilities. It helps companies reduce risks, provides design flexibility and made designs and ideas reach to the consumers faster. It will continue to provide benefits to companies and to the consumers too.