In this article we are going to answer a few common questions:
– What is discrete manufacturing?
– What is the difference between discrete and process manufacturing?
– What are discrete and Process Manufacturing examples?
How to choose between the Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing
Discrete manufacturing refers to products that are produced in large quantities using one-off designs and production processes. These products tend to be very different from one another, and even the same product may be produced in varying degrees of quality. Examples of discrete manufacturing include products like sports cars, mobile devices and clothing. Process manufacturing, on the other hand, is geared towards producing identical products in bulk. Examples of process manufacturing include products like food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
Advantages of Discrete Manufacturing:
The process for manufacturing a product in discrete and process manufacturing follows a step-by-step procedure in order to produce parts or a product of desired state, strength and specification. The number of errors that can be tolerated in discrete manufacturing is much lower than in process manufacturing. A slight variation in parts could result in a non-functional product such as a car engine not being able to start at all. The difference between discrete and process manufacturing is one of the more significant distinctions in manufacturing. While they do operate on much the same basic principles, the nature of discrete manufacturing is to fill orders for one client at a time. It’s similar to project or short-run manufacturing in that you’re essentially building one object. Process manufacturing, on the other hand, can involve dealing with large volumes of work.
Advantages of Process Manufacturing
Process manufacturing involves a process to create a product. In contrast, discrete manufacturing creates distinct products by assembling parts in a prescribed process. To put it differently, process manufacturing relies on creating formulas or recipes to produce a product, making it necessary to be flexible in the situation and make variations when required. On the other hand, discrete manufacturing assembles parts in a prescribed process to produce a distinct item. Process manufacturing allows far more flexibility to make variations while the discrete manufacturing is very much restricted. A few terms like reworking or re-processing are reserved for process manufacturing only. Variation in discrete manufacturing may result in a non-functional product (e.g., a misfit car assembly part) whereas variation in process manufacturing may still provide a product that customers like (e.g., a syrup with a slight change of colour or in taste). In both scenarios, the end products still need to meet the predetermined specifications for regulatory purposes otherwise out-of-specification results are highly unacceptable.
While discrete manufacturing creates products, process manufacturing creates products that are built at a much larger scale.
Here are a few more examples:
Discrete manufacturing use nuts, bolts and wires
Automobile, cars and airplane
Electronics, smart phones, computing machines
Industrial equipment, kitchenware
Clothing and more…
Process manufacturing use a recipe, a product formula
Food, confectionery, sweets, beverages
Chemicals, reagents, solvents
Process manufacturing is a type of manufacturing that starts with raw materials and produces a product through a series of steps. Discrete manufacturing is a type of production that starts with sub-assemblies of parts and assembles them into a product.
Breaking Down the Differences (Discrete vs Process Manufacturing)
Discrete manufacturing is a style of factory organization that separates production into individual operations. In discrete manufacturing, companies treat each operation as a separate process, which helps with a variety of steps. Managers understand the status of each step, so they can adjust to keep every step on track. Managers also create clean breaks between steps, so they can focus on each operation. In addition, managers focus on each step separately, so they can find ways to improve each step individually.
Efficiency in Process Manufacturing – Reducing Waste
Process manufacturing is a type of manufacturing that starts with materials and produces a product through a series of steps. This is distinct from discrete manufacturing which starts with sub-assemblies or parts and assembles them into a product. Process manufacturing most often uses batch production where each batch is the same. Discrete manufacturing most often uses job order production which is where each product is separate and needs an individual production line and production orders. Process manufacturing can be more efficient because the materials are not actively changed before they are returned to the next step.
The procedure for discrete and process manufacturing follows a specific sequence in order to produce a product of desired state, strength and specification. For discrete manufacturing a slight variation in parts could result in a non-functional product. In this situation, the company needs to replace a defective part with one meeting the standard. In contrast, the process manufacturing variation may result in a slightly coloured solution or an out-of-specification product, e.g., pH (acidity). This variation in process manufacturing could result in an unacceptable product, however, techniques are available to clarify the solution (e.g., using charcoal as an adsorbent) or adding more of an acid or alkali for pH adjustments that makes the product acceptable.
Variation Flexibility (Discrete vs Process Manufacturing)
It is common in manufacturing to use a combination of both methods. Indeed, most manufacturing facilities today have multi-step processes that are more like discrete than process manufacturing. This manufacturing process can be divided into two categories: variation flexibility and process flexibility. Variation flexibility is more suited for producing discrete parts. Process flexibility is more suitable for concurrent production of large numbers of parts.
Discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing both work towards generating a product that is acceptable to customers and meets regional, environmental and regulatory requirements. In both cases, material is moved in a certain direction, processed, checked during the process against predetermined in-process checks and released for sale as required. Manufacturing processes require proper evaluation of the product raw materials, establishing requirements, supplier selection, testing, audits and compliance. The products in all cases should be safer to use (e.g., baby cart) and in specific cases should be effective (e.g., pharmaceuticals). The number of errors that can be tolerated in discrete manufacturing is much lower than in process manufacturing. Thorough knowledge and understanding of the process in both discrete and process manufacturing as well as operator training and ownership are essential to make a product that meets customer satisfaction.
Process manufacturing is potentially used to produce a larger number of units in a campaign (e.g., bulk syrup can be filled in hundreds of bottles in one process step) compared to discrete manufacturing that may produce a few hundred units in individual process runs.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on PharmaRead are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization. PharmaRead articles are provided for information only with focus on global health, pharmacy practice, and healthcare systems in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs). Readers should seek expert opinion for use, implementation or application of this knowledge based on their individual circumstances.
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