Manufacturing Systems

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Scales of production

This refers to how many of a product are made and the manufacturing systems used to make it

Manufacturing system

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This is the type of system used to manufacture a product e.g. one off production, batch production or mass production. The type of system used will depend on how many products are being made, what the the products are, and the number and type of processes involved in production. 

One off production 

  • Also know as Bespoke / Haute Couture / Make Through / Made to Measure / Custom Made / Job Production    
  • One or a very small number of unique items are made often to order
  • High quality products with a lot of attention to detail which usually makes them expensive to buy
  • E.g. wedding dresses, Haute Couture products, Saville Row suits

Batch production

  • Also known as Cell Production / Quick Response Cellular Production 
  • Production of a specific number of a product often on a production line
  • System can be used with small batches of products or larger numbers 
  • Flexible and allows production to change to meet market demands
  • Allows for bulk buying and economies of scale
  • Most high street textiles products that follow trends use this system

Mass production 

  • Also known as High Volume Production, Repetitive or Continual Flow Production 
  • Produces large numbers of identical products often 24 hours a day
  • Production lines are used often using automated machines
  • Materials bought in bulk enabling economies of scale
  • Mostly used for items where fashions don’t change and where changes in market demand  are limited e.g. tea towels, school uniform shirts, towels

Production line

Batch and mass production use produciton lines (also known as assembly lines) where workers specialise in doing one section of a product and then pass the work onto the next worker. 

Just in Time production (JIT)

  • Where products are made as they are needed and sold straight away rather than being stored in a stock room. 
  • Sometimes referred to as ‘fast fashion'
  • This system relies on computer information from the stores via the tills and bar codes on the products
  • It allows manufacturers to meet current market demands, reduces storage costs, as well as reducing the amount of left over stock that doesn’t sell

Manufacturing costs

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  • Fixed costs - those that don’t changed and which can be predicted e.g. rent/mortgage, loads
  • Variable costs - those that are unpredictable and which depend on what is being produced, how many are made etc. e.g. labour, packaging, transport, materials, energy

How a company might reduce their costs

  • Economies of scale - buying in bulk at reduced prices
  • Replace time consuming techniques with ones that are quicker to do 
  • Substitute materials and components for different types
  • Use of a standardised design so all products are the same 

  • Take photos of at least 2 products that are made using each of the 3 scales of production.  
  • Explain why the scale of production has been used for each product 
  • Use the table below to calculate the costs savings that might be made when making a 1000 shirts where the materials are bought in bulk
  • Compare a product that has been made as a one off product to one made on the high street e.g. a Saville Row suit and a high street store suit
  • Fast fashion is often seen as something that is negative. Present 3 arguments for and 3 arguments against fast fashion
  • Look at a one off product. What changes and developments would you make to reduce the costs?

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See example questions on scales of production 

Also take a look at these Pinterest boards on industrial practice and use the images to help you revise

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