In most industries, there are some general approaches to manage the manufacturing processes. These general approaches are called process types. In the LED light industry, the process types are set to manage the operation of the volume-variety manufacturing activities.
To an LED light manufacturer, several process types are classified to show the methods of managing the manufacturing operations with different volume and variety features. Based on the increasing volume and decreasing variety, these process types are project processes, jobbing processes, batch processes, mass processes and continuous processes. These process types are widely applied in the LED tube industry. For example, the manufacturing activities of the LED solar power system manufacturer products are most likely managed by the mass processes.
1. Project processes.
The project processes are the managing activities to cope with the highly customized projects, such as some tailor-made products. For such customized projects, it takes a very long time to finish the spare part production and the individual service part, let alone the whole project. Therefore, in the project processes of the LED light manufacturer, the features are low volume and high variety. The activities involved in the projects can be interrupted or changed by the uncertainty and goal changed by the customers or the manufacturing processes. Examples of project processes include the LED lighting projects of the stadium and the tunnel. The key point of the project processes is that each activity has its own start time and finish time. There may be a long time interval between the jobs, as the resources need to allocate and organized for the following jobs.
2. Jobbing processes.
The jobbing processes are also designed to cope with very high variety and low volumes. In the project processes of the LED bulb manufacturer, each product has its own allocated resources, in some cases may be more or less exclusively to it. However, in the jobbing processes, each part or product needs to apply the operation’s resources with others. The manufacturing lines in the jobbing processes are making a series of products. These products may require the same resources and the same type of operation, but they may differ in the levels of usage. Examples of the jobbing processes can be the LED lighting system of a warehouse. Such a project will require different types of LED tube and LED bulb products to achieve the luminous purposes. These products will need to install LED chips, LED driver and LED housing. However, their needs of the same resources will be different in the assembly lines.
3. Batch processes.
In general practice, batch process and jobbing processes can be similar, but the batch processes have less variety compared with the jobbing processes. As the term batch indicates, the output of each process will make more than one piece of the product. In the manufacturing line, each single operation has its own repeatable part. The individual operation is repeating itself during the batch production. If the size of the batch is small, only two or three pieces, the batch processes will be nearly the same as the jobbing processes. This is normally in the case of a new product. However, if the batch size is large, and the products are frequently manufactured on the production lines, the batch processes can be repetitive. Therefore, the batch processes can support a wider range of volume and variety, compared with other processes. Take an LED bulb manufacturer for example. The manufacturing of the T12 LED tube light and T8 LED tube light can be batch processes, and the size will be large.
4. Mass processes.
The mass processes are designed to deal with products in high volume but low variety, in terms of the design or mechanism of the products. The LED tube light products can be an example. There are many types of tubes available, such as the T12 LED tube light and T8 LED tube light. However, the manufacturing lines are still mass processes because the different features or variants of the tubes do not affect the nature of the manufacturing activities. They are using the same processes, with only some different spare parts installed on the lines. The processes in the LED light production lines are most likely repetitive and predictable. For examples, the tubes are firstly assembled with the chips, then with the drivers, and finally with the housing. Of course, different tubes may use different types of LED chips, LED drivers and housing.
5. Continuous processes.
The continuous processes are the next stop of the mass processes, which work at higher volume and lower variety. These processes can be interpreted as the production activities with longer timescale. In some cases, the manufacturing lines work endlessly to make huge quantity of products. These products seem inseparable and are needed in an endless flow. In some extreme cases, the continuous processes are required to work continuously, as the operation needs to supply the goods without a break. These processes are normally designed to deal with relatively inflexible, capital-intensive technologies with highly predictable flow. So far, these processes are not applicable to the LED light industry, as the LED tube or LED bulb products are still not so popular in our everyday life. The continuous processes are more suitable for the steel making and electricity utilities.