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The main advantages of mass production are simple, yet have transformed society from the days of the cottage industry where finished goods were expensive and rare. Economies of scale, standardization, automated manufacturing flow, and specialization in workers have all contributed to making the process successful at meeting the needs of modern society. While increasing automation will continue to replace some worker roles in the mass production process over time, the concept is likely to remain a fixture of industry for at least the rest of the 21st century.
One of the key motivators for establishing the process in the first place is what is known as economies of scale. This means that the larger a production run of a product becomes, the lower the cost per unit to produce these items will correspondingly drop. This translates into greater net profits for the business if there is an unmet demand for the product.
Another key advantage to mass production is that it creates a degree of standardization in manufacturing that is not normally present in materials or complete units manufactured one at a time. This is due to the fact that each station in an assembly line is set up with machinery that will only accept parts of a predetermined size, composition, and so forth. This set of automatic controls or jigs at each work station allows for parts to be produced in widely varying geographic locations and assembled into a completed unit elsewhere. It also allows workers to focus their energy and attention on processing the part instead of also making sure that it meets measured standards, which speeds up the assembly process. After the product is on the market, such standardization also contributes to a higher level of interchangeability and routine maintenance over time.
An industrial term for mass production is flow production, or repetitive flow production, which highlights another key advantage the system offers. While getting a mass production business started involves a large investment in automated machinery and power equipment, the payoff after the system is established is profound. Powered automation speeds up the production process, creating a a steady stream or flow of product at a much more rapid rate than could otherwise be produced. The faster the products can be produced to standards and moved into the retail market, the more profit the labor generates for the company, with the same amount of hours devoted to the job that a craftsman would devote to make just one product.
The core concept behind the value of mass production from a human resources point of view is the idea of division of labor. When something is produced through serial production where each worker focuses all their attention on one small aspect, then the product has the ability to possess a higher degree of reliable quality than those produced one at a time. Specialization is, therefore, a key aspect of the success of mass production, as someone working in series production on anything can become an expert at maintaining the quality of one aspect in a short amount of time.