Product Resources uses both Batch and Cell manufacturing strategies depending on the product volume and schedule.
Batch Build vs. Cell Build
- For a single shipment of product, usually based on a PO-to-PO basis, a batch process is typically chosen.
- For continuous manufacturing, typically via a supply contract, we can take the time to setup a Work Cell. The initial setup costs are easy to justify on a multi-year contract.
Batch assembly is the traditional method of building a product. Purchased material is booked into the stockroom. Then material in the stockroom is kitted with all the drawings and procedures, then moved from the stockroom to a workstation. Inventory transactions track each piece of material.
The assembly is built; if any material is damaged additional transactions and interactions with the stockroom are necessary. Once complete, the finished assembly is moved back into the stockroom and another inventory transaction is made.
This is an efficient process, especially when using computers and automated data input (e.g., barcode scanners), but there is a considerable number of touches and inventory transfers on the material.
Compare this method to a Work Cell. A Work Cell is an assigned space with dedicated workstations and inventory for a particular product. There is considerable setup at the outset of manufacturing, but there is considerable transactional efficiency.
When purchased material is received, it is moved to an inventory location within the Work Cell rather than into inventory. Transacting the material out of inventory and into WIP is eliminated. When required, the Work Cell personnel pick material directly from the cell’s inventory location and use it immediately. As the products are completed and exit the cell, inventory is automatically adjusted.
Work Cells can incorporate mechanical, electrical, plumbing assembly and test operations in one area, or there may be multiple cells with some focusing on assembly and other on test and calibration.
The choice of Batch or Cell build is not one or the other, there are many instances of batch-built assemblies feeding inventory for a cell-built product. Having the flexibility to use one or more methods can be advantageous.