Mass production is a method of producing standardized goods in large quantities so that the goods can be produced at the lowest cost per unit, while the quality of the goods can also be maintained at specified standards. The standardization and/or quality of products can be achieved through precision-manufacturing. The mass production process normally adopts automated equipment for transferring parts and materials; as well as using automated systems of machinery to achieve high volume production. The parts and materials flowing through different stages in the manufacturing process are well organized. Quality control of various production parts takes place by programming automated precision machinery and the division of labour to ensure the high quality of products. This mass production system can be applied to many kinds of products, from fluids to particulates, and discrete solid parts. Some examples are: fuel, chemicals, minerals, foodstuffs and discrete solid parts for assembly of larger products (such as household appliances and machinery).
Mass production relies on the use of machinery and system automation with the smallest possible labour force. It is therefore important and necessary to invent and develop modernized and intelligent machines. Nowadays, mass production systems use a lot of precision machines and equipment to produce large numbers of identical parts at very low cost with the minimum labour.
A mass production system affects the organization of work in many ways:
- Tasks can be subdivided and performed by unskilled workers or semi-skilled workers.
- Most operation skills are built into and operated by precision machines.
- The manufacturing process is more complicated so many of the management and operation controls are performed by supervisory and managerial staff.
- The increasing complexity of operations demands more skilful technical staff.
- A labour force can be divided into national and international regions. A factory can have different production lines for the production of various parts in different countries.
Honda Motor Co. uses mass production of cars in China. In March 1999, the Japanese carmaker announced that it would invest in and produce 10,000 cars in China in that year, and the manufactured cars would be sold to the US. Output would also be increased to 30,000 by 2001, and the quantity could be raised to 50,000 in the future. However, the company felt that China might not have adequate or good quality parts for manufacturing the cars, so parts and components would be imported from Japan, the US, Thailand and Malaysia (Asian Economic News,1999).
The following video clip shows the Motor Honda Mass Production Line in the application of machineries and automation systems with minimal workers.