Batch Vs. One Piece Flow Manufacturing

One of the most basic problems to solve in manufacturing is a two fold question: How do I minimize time and money, and how do I maximize production? Creating the best solution to your manufacturing process is a product of your specific circumstances, but, most likely, you can bulk your production into two areas: Batch or One Piece Flow. Now, both have their pros and cons, but how do you weigh those options and model your business appropriately?

Batch Manufacturing

Batch manufacturing refers to a method of production that builds one batch at a time (regardless of batch size) in each build location before it can move on to the next, so a batch, or a set of pieces in a group, sits in stage 1 of production while stages 2, 3 and 4 wait on its completion. For example, every ingredient of a cake must be completely mixed before it can be poured in a pan, and every ounce of the cake must be poured before it can be baked, and every square inch must be baked before it can be decorated, and so on and so forth. In this method the cake decorator must wait on the baker to bake the cake who waits on the mixer who mixes the ingredients. This style of manufacturing fits if your business molds to it, but the pros and cons must be weighed.


  1. Attention To Detail Is Key. Batch manufacturing makes each step of production carefully craft the product. Employees are skilled at their work station, and mastery of their skill produces quality product. Each piece of the batch requires proper completion, and there is a demand for inspection and quality management before moving on to the next stage of manufacturing.
  2. Produce In Bulk Batch manufacturing requires every piece to be finished before moving on, so there is plenty of room to produce in bulk. When jobs are produced in bulk, raw materials can be purchased in bulk, so the cost of production reduces with lower rates. On the subject of purchasing, material control is simpler when buying in bulk because most pieces belong to lots when ordered, so allocating resources to jobs pairs well with purchasing material.
  3. Scheduling and Forecasting This job process requires complete traceability throughout all manufacturing steps, so having visibility of your product in every work location allows for intelligent scheduling and forecasting. Detailed planning shows that you have complete control of your production, and this gives your customers confidence that orders will be produced in time.


  1. Timely and Costly The glaring downside to batch manufacturing is the very time consuming process. Because every batch must be fully completed before being passed to the next stage, time spent at each location tends to result in high amounts of time spent for just one finished product. High amounts of time spent on one job means large labor, overhead and machine costs for one single order. Though you may attempt to offset these high costs by purchasing material in bulk, there is still major cost directly tied with a job.
  2. Requires Space For Inventory Though the aforementioned producing in bulk upside still remains true, it requires space to hold all of the purchased inventory. MRP tracking and scheduling also improves the slow production rate, but if there is not a proper amount of inventory at your disposal, it becomes difficult to complete those orders on time. A lack of adequate inventory space decreases your productivity when orders become backlogged.

One Piece Flow

One Piece Flow manufacturing refers to the method of production that moves product along the stages of manufacturing once a single piece is complete, regardless of that piece’s relation to a batch or not. For example, when a glass bottle is produced for a six pack of soda, it does not matter if the other five bottles are completely labeled before moving on to its bottle being capped, the other five will move along when they have individually completed the steps required to finish that stage of production. The six pack, or batch, is bundled at the end of production, not at every step. Like batch manufacturing, all variables must be accounted for if this is the right manufacturing process for you.


  1. Quick One piece flow production is extremely quick and efficient. Each piece of the manufacturing line is worked on , and then moves along the process with no wait time. Quick production means customers will received their finished good in a timely manner, and you can fulfill more orders in your work day.
  2. Low Labor Cost This fast paced productions allows for low labor and overhead cost. Since product constantly moves through the manufacturing chains, employees don’t wait on batches to completion before working in their stage of production. Because labor rate is low, cost of production decreases.
  3. Produce In Mass Not to be confused with producing in bulk, one piece flow manufacturing allows you to produce the same, one piece product in large quantities. With no product identification and traceability during production you may continuously produce your product through the manufacturing process.


  1. Low skilled labor With a constant, assembly-line style of production your laborers may have low skill levels. Low skill labor is efficient in fast paced production, but with repetitive work , employees seem to see less incentive in doing meticulous labor. Unfortunately, with low skilled labor, the quality of the product tends to decrease and customer satisfaction decreases with it.
  2. Difficult to track labor plans With seemingly countless pieces in one piece flow production, it becomes extremely difficult to track labor. If you commit to the one piece flow manufacturing process, stopping production to measure, weight or inspect product will back up production. Less inspection throughout the production process tends to lead to a decrease in the quality of product. Also, if tracking labor plans gets out of hand, the entire production process becomes murky, and you have less visibility of your business process.

How To Model Batch and One Piece Flow

Regardless of the manufacturing decision you make for your business, it is crucial to model your business on an integrated platform. Cetec ERP allows batch manufacturers to track all pieces in their batches before they move onto the next stage of production. Detailed labor plans are placed in Cetec for all employees to view every order and their steps of production. These detailed plans communicate to Cetec’s real time scheduling module, so every active and upcoming order is on time.

Cetec promotes continuous production in one piece flow manufacturing and allows for intelligent inventory allocation for active orders, so your business never gets too big to control. Within every job Cetec tracks, labor is appropriately costed for every piece of product, and it is carried to the total cost of the finished job.

If your manufacturing business is struggling to catch up with constant one piece flow orders, or scheduling large batch orders becomes a challenging task, a powerful, cloud ERP is the next step for you to move past your pain points. Cetec ERP is a completely integrated platform that allows you to control your business with total traceability, visibility, and smooth functionality. Sign up for a 30 day free trial and find why Cetec is the best manufacturing software solution.

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