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Continuous production is a strategy that involves the ongoing processing of materials as part of the manufacturing effort. Often, this means that production facilities are in constant operation, producing goods that are in high demand from consumers of all types. This form of production is common in many industries, including the oil and auto industries.
This form of processing is different from the other most common production model, known as batch production. A continuous approach to production requires that raw materials are consumed in the manufacturing process on a continual basis. With batch production, materials are used to complete a single batch or lot, then the process begins anew with a fresh batch of raw materials. While both methods strive to maintain consistent quality, there is more opportunity for some small differences to occur from one batch to the next.
Production controllers are utilized to maintain the efficiency and quality of continuous production. These controllers vary in type and purpose from one industry to another. Controllers often focus attention on the performance of machinery used in the manufacturing process, as well as the quality of the raw materials used in the process. Monitoring every aspect of the production helps to ensure the quality of the products produced as well as maintain acceptable production quotas.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of continuous production is the constant influx of raw materials coupled with the constant flow of processed materials through the production cycle. An excellent example of this type of production is seen with the processing of oil refining. The ongoing cycle of refining oil leads to the creation of various types of petroleum-based products, including gasoline and various types of machine and motor oils. Since the demand for these products is so high, production facilities often operate around the clock, with as little downtime for maintenance as possible.
A number of products are manufactured using a continuous production model. Some of these are common household items, such as laundry detergent. A number of processed food products are also produced using this model. Construction materials, such as bricks or prefabricated cement blocks, are often manufactured using a process of continuous production. Cleaning supplies and even fertilizers for the garden are sometimes manufactured using this approach. Even some forms of textile manufacturing can rightly be referred to as continuous production.
Electrical components are another example of goods created using continuous production. This approach helps to maintain uniformity in size, design, and quality, even if a individual units are produced days or even weeks apart. The production model thus makes it relatively easy to secure a circuit board for some type of electronic device, even if the device is several years old.
A lot of times, food products can only be manufactured with a batch process because the ingredients used are only grown and harvested during specific times of the year.
These manufacturers offset the limited production window by storing as many ingredients as they can to be ready for production when all raw materials are available.
Depending on the shelf life of the product, seasonal items may need to be produced when the ingredients are available at their freshest and stored for later distribution.