Why are assembly-line processes usually so much more efficient but less flexible than batch processes?give three reasons

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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It will not be entirely correct to say that assembly-line processes are more efficient than batch processes. Both these types of processes can be the most efficient or not so efficient for specific applications depending upon the nature of operations performed and the volume of work.

To begin with, as the name itself indicates, assembly-line method is appropriate only for operations involving assembling of two or more components into a composite product. It it cannot be used when the operation involving processing of single inputs. Further, assembly line technique is suitable only for very high production rates. Thus assembly-line methods are used primarily for high volume consumer durable goods such as automobile, and home appliances.

Batch processing on the other hand can be used for any type of production. However, when the non-assembly operations with very high rate of production is required it is better to use some method of automated or continuous production. Yarn spinning is a good example of such high speed automated production process.

Some production processes are such that batch processes continues to be the best alternative for even very high level of production. For example, Pig iron is produced in blast furnace in batch mode.

Even coming to consideration of flexibility, the assembly line process is less flexible because it is designed that way. When the product is standard there is no need for the process to be flexible. However, it is worthwhile to note that now Assembly lines are being designed to provide a considerable higher level or flexibility than was the case in the past.

In case of batch production also the flexibility of the process will depend on the way the process is designed. Let us once again take the example of the blast furnace operations. It is a batch process but has very little flexibility. This process is not designed to be flexible, simply because flexibility is not required.

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