Batch Processing vs. Continuous Processing
January 9, 2023
Batch processing and continuous processing are two methods of manufacturing used across industries. Understanding the differences between batch processing and continuous processing can help companies make informed decisions about the best production method for their specific needs.
Let’s dive in to take a closer look at these two methods of manufacturing.
Batch Manufacturing Definition
As the name suggests, batch production is a manufacturing process in which identical goods are produced at once and in batches. These can be large or small batches of products. The size of the batches resulting from this production process depends on the manufacturer and its unique circumstances.
As products move through the batch production process, each batch must complete the current stage before the next batch can begin. Similarly, the raw materials needed for a particular batch of products can only move to the next stage after all materials within the batch have moved through.
For example, consider a manufacturing business that produces cans of engine oil. One stage might be to produce the cans. The next stage pours the oil into the cans. And the final stages include capping, sealing, and labeling the cans.
One benefit of this approach is that you can make changes between batches. Say one batch undergoes quality assurance protocols. If you find mistakes, you can adjust the process to prevent the same mistakes in the next batch. This helps reduce waste by preventing manufacturers from producing a load of unsatisfactory finished products.
Characteristics of Batch Manufacturing
The main characteristics of the batch production system, compared to other mass production systems, are:
- One batch of products completes a stage of production before another can begin that stage.
- Each batch of products goes through all the stages of production together.
- The machines are arranged in chronological order aligning with the production flow.
- Quality control can check and make changes during downtime between batches.
Examples of Batch Manufacturing
Industries and businesses that apply the batch process in their manufacturing operations include:
- Pharmaceutical companies: Pharmaceutical products typically follow a batch system. Drugs are formulated, then divided into retail sizes, and only then packaged.
- Commercial bakeries: Batch manufacturing is standard in bakeries and confectioneries. To save time and streamline the process, teams usually make the dough in batches. Then, all the batches go in the oven at once.
- Soap manufacturers: The soap-making process includes saponification, drying, and mixing. Bars of soap usually undergo saponification first. Then the batch gets dried all at once, then mixed at the same time before they all get packaged.
Other batch production examples include apparel manufacturing and electronics manufacturing.
Advantages of Batch Manufacturing
Adopting a batch production system depends on a company’s manufacturing goals. The benefits of implementing a batch manufacturing system include the following:
There can be significant downtime between batches. However, batch production can reduce the need to set up production machines repeatedly. Also, moving items between workstations in batches requires less time than repeatedly going back and forth between batches.
Machines only run when they are being used. Because multiple products go through one stage at a time, running costs are reduced. Also, depending on the production size, purchasing raw materials in bulk may provide discounts.
Improves Quality Control
Correcting configuration or human errors using this production method is more straightforward. You can make changes between batches. This helps ensure new product quality.
You can make changes due to customer demand. For example, manufacturers can alter their production choices and bill of materials based on new customer demands or market trends without losing entire batches of products.
In addition, you can tweak production planning and production scheduling according to a team’s current capabilities. For example, you can schedule the stages of the production process specifically based on team availability.
Batch Process vs. Continuous Process
Batch manufacturing is a manufacturing process in which a specific quantity of a product is produced in a single production run. Then, the equipment is cleaned and prepared for the next production run. Manufacturers use batch manufacturing for products made in small quantities or requiring a high level of customization. As a result, batch manufacturing provides more process control.
On the other hand, continuous manufacturing is continuous and ongoing rather than divided into discrete batches. In continuous manufacturing, raw materials are fed into the mixers at one end of the production process, and final products emerge from the other end. Manufacturers often use continuous manufacturing for high-volume production, requiring top-level consistency and quality control.
Batch vs. Continuous Production in the Food Industry
In batch food production, all ingredients go through each step together, completing each step as a group before moving on to the next one. For example, in a batch process, all ingredients might be mixed together first, then baked, and finally cooled down together.
On the other hand, in continuous food production, ingredients go through the process without interruption, moving from one step to the next without waiting for other ingredients to catch up. This means that ingredients do not have to wait for a step to be completed before moving on to the next step.
Benefits of Continuous Manufacturing in Food Production
In general, batch manufacturing requires more manual intervention, as the equipment needs to be set up and adjusted for each production run. On the other hand, continuous manufacturing is highly automated, with automation controlling the flow of raw materials and finished products. This allows for more consistent and efficient production but also requires a higher level of investment in equipment and technology. Additional benefits include the following:
Improved food safety: Continuous manufacturing can improve food safety by continuously monitoring the production process and identifying and addressing potential problems before they occur. This can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other safety issues.
Enhanced quality control: Continuous manufacturing allows for more consistent and accurate measurement of ingredients and finished products. Automated systems can continuously monitor and control the production process. This results in high-quality food products with fewer defects.
Greater flexibility: Continuous manufacturing allows for more flexibility in product types. Manufacturers can quickly and easily adjust the production process to accommodate different recipes and ingredient mixes.
Increased efficiency: Continuous manufacturing allows for a more streamlined and efficient production process, as raw materials can be continuously fed into the production line, and finished products can be continuously produced. This can result in faster turnaround times and lower production costs. Automated control systems allow you to scale up and reduce inefficiency in the process.
Reduced waste: Continuous manufacturing can reduce waste by continuously monitoring the production process and identifying and addressing potential problems before they occur.
Enhanced sustainability: Continuous manufacturing can be more sustainable than batch manufacturing. This results in lower energy and resource consumption and fewer production defects, leading to less waste and a smaller environmental footprint.
Executing Batch Manufacturing
Generally, the goals of a manufacturer determine the manufacturing method. In practice, you’re unlikely to adopt either a strict batch production method or a continuous production method. Instead, you are likelier to implement a mix of manufacturing processes that work best for the company.
For example, a manufacturing team might set up a production line that involves a mix of the job shop and the batch manufacturing process. Another team might use some combination of continuous manufacturing and batch manufacturing.
Use MaintainX to Automate Your Manufacturing
Whatever manufacturing process you choose, you’ll benefit from streamlining your workflow to meet quality and efficiency standards and industry regulatory compliance. A robust CMMS like MaintainX will help you increase productivity by automating work orders, integrating ERPS, creating Standard Operating Procedures, scheduling preventive maintenance to avoid process shutdown, managing parts inventory and supply-chain challenges, and sharing real-time updates from the production facility floor. MaintainX is a highly-rated CMMS. Check it out for free.