Published on Jan 19, 2016
A Mass production (also called flow production or repetitive flow production) is the production of large amounts of standardized products on production lines. It was popularised by Henry Ford in the early 20th Century, notably in his Ford Model T. Mass production is notable because it permits very high rates of production per worker and therefore provides very inexpensive products.
Mass production is capital intensive, as it uses a high proportion of machinery in relation to workers. With fewer labour costs and a faster rate of production, capital is increased while expenditure is decreased. However the machinery that is needed to set up a mass production line is so expensive that there must be some assurance that the product is to be successful so the company can get a return on its investment.
Machinery for mass production such as robots and machine presses have high installation costs as well. Thus, mass production is idealy suited to serve large, relatively homogenous populations of consumers, whose demand would satisfy the long production runs required by this method of manufacturing. As such, it is not surprising that, given a number of other factors, mass production first became prevalent in the United States.
The economies of mass production come from several sources. The primary cause is a reduction of nonproductive effort of all types. In craft production, the craftsman must bustle about a shop, getting parts and assembling them. He must locate and use many tools many times for varying tasks. In mass production, each worker repeats one or a few related tasks that use the same tool to perform identical or near-identical operations on a stream of products. The exact tool and parts are always at hand, having been moved down the assembly line consecutively. The worker spends little or no time retrieving and/or preparing materials and tools, and so the time taken to manufacture a product using mass production is shorter than when using traditional methods.
The probability of human error and variation is also reduced, as tasks are predominately carried out by machinery. A reduction in labour costs, as well as an increased rate of production, enables a company to produce a larger quantity of one product at a lower cost than using traditional, non-linear methods.
However, mass production is inflexible because it is difficult to alter a design or production process after a production line is implemented. Also, all products produced on one production line will be identical or very similar, and introducing variety to satisfy individual tastes is not easy. However, some variety can be achieved by applying different finishes and decorations at the end of the production line if necessary.