Manufacturing Systems: Building An Efficient Process

In the world of manufacturing, there are a variety of systems to choose from, each with its perfect use case and set of advantages and disadvantages. Having the ideal manufacturing systems for your product range can yield a large list of benefits, such as maintaining the high quality of your goods, being more efficient in your production processes and saving money across the board.

The right system can also help you produce higher volumes and maximise capacity, thereby meeting your production volume targets and getting the most out of your current equipment.

For a sports business, the manufacturing systems resource is material; more specifically, garment material for your products. The efficiency and productivity of your supply chains depend on having products available on time at a cost that works for both you, as the manufacturer and your customers.

With that in mind, your business needs to assess all of the options when it comes to operational systems. You’re looking for a process that meshes well with your production line but also suits your staff of operators.

We’ll cover:


Custom Manufacturing Systems

Custom manufacturing is by far the oldest and most popular type of manufacturing system in the sector. It also happens to be associated with both the highest-quality products and the lowest-volume efficiency – so it makes sense that businesses would use it, right?

In custom manufacturing systems, each item is produced by a single operator, who works solely by hand or with the aid of a machine. When machines are used during the process, they tend to be highly specialised to each task; so they can’t produce more than one item at a time.

One drawback of this system is it will usually have the highest unit cost for the product manufactured. As a result, products that are custom manufactured are of the highest quality but they also tend to be on the pricier end of the market. 

In addition, scaling out of custom manufacturing systems into larger production lines is difficult to accomplish without significant investment from the business in new equipment, as the machines used are only good at producing one thing in a certain time frame.


Intermittent Manufacturing Systems

Employing intermittent manufacturing systems allows companies to make different types of goods while using the same production line. Therefore, the manufacturing warehouse is designed to handle different product sizes and requirements. Generally, the goods are processed in large scales to fulfil wholesale orders and varying (intermittent) output capacity.

This system is commonly referred to as a “job shop” due to its popularity in countries with cost-effective labour, making products for more developed countries across the world. The goods made using this manufacturing method are produced in batches to vary depending on the output required from the production line. In turn, this speeds up production and makes operations easier.

Product customisation isn’t usually done in the manufacturing stage with the intermittent system – what tends to occur is the product is made and then shipped to design studios, who will then customise it to their needs. 

This type of system is designed for production runs that happen intermittently (hence the name) or products that don’t require a high amount of custom labour. It uses general-purpose machines and requires highly skilled operators to run smoothly.


Continuous Manufacturing Systems

The continuous manufacturing system is designed to enable the mass production of a single, uncomplicated product. The product goes through an assembly line with different stations, where parts are added or worked on in increments. This method first arose during the Industrial Revolution and was innovated by the Ford Company, which employed the system to produce Model Ts in the 1920s.

This type of production system is ideal when a business has to produce large quantities of the same product. It scales very well and is cost-effective, as the materials generally stay the same throughout. It does, however, require a massive investment at startup due to the budget required for equipment and the amount of staff needed to operate such a big operation.

Flexible Manufacturing Systems

Flexible manufacturing is the most modern manufacturing system covered here – and it has become very popular in the manufacturing sector recently. It involves a significant investment in machinery, although it reduces labour costs by implementing artificial intelligence, making the need for human operators redundant. These machines can easily be reprogrammed to manufacture a variety of products in different quantities, and the whole process is automatic, so there are no overheads for the business to cover in the forms of staff wages. 

Flexible manufacturing relies on what’s called ‘group technology’ in order to achieve the manufacturing goals of the business. Dedicated machinery is often employed in manufacturing when cost savings are important, although these machines lack the flexibility that a more expensive, manually operated tool might have. By using this system, manufacturing can be done in smaller batches with the simplicity and efficiency of mass production.

This method is called flexible manufacturing due to the flexibility it has with capacity and varying output, plus the vast range of goods it can produce. Of course, due to the entire system being automated, the only time people need to step in is at the quality control stage to ensure that everything has worked as it should and the product is of satisfactory quality. 


Which System is Right For Your Sportswear Business?

You’ve now got the business case for each manufacturing system – so which one works for your business? Consider what your products look like, how they’re made and the degree of variability there is in output. The answers to these questions will determine your system choice.

The process you go with will also influence your equipment and machinery requirements – for our guidance as to the industrial machine you need, check out our free guide! It includes everything you need to know about single-head and multi-head embroidery machines. 

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