Design & Technology
There are four main types of industrial production - one-off, batch, mass and continuous flow production - which have progressively larger scales of operation. ICT is now important in virtually every type of commercial design and production, with different types of computer-control of design and making processes grouped together as CAD[an error occurred while processing this directive] and CAM[an error occurred while processing this directive].
The different production methods may have different design requirements, but most commercial designers have three roles: a functional [functional: relating to the performance of a product - its 'fitness for purpose' ] role, an aesthetic [aesthetic: relating to shape, style, colour, pattern and other aspects of a product's visual appeal ] role and an organisational role. Designers need to be aware of the standards and conventions which regulate industrial design practices.
Industrial production methods
There are four main types of industrial production methods:
- One-off production is when only one product is made at a time. As every product is different, one-off production is labour intensive. Products may be made by hand or a combination of hand and machine methods.
- Batch production is when a small quantity of identical products are made - from two up to about 100. Batch production may also use a lot of labour, but jigs and templates are used to aid production. Batches of the product can be made as often as required. Often the machines can be easily changed to produce a batch of a different product.
- Mass or repetitive flow production is when hundreds of identical products are made, usually on a production line. Mass production often involves the assembly of a number of sub-assemblies of individual components. Some parts may be bought from other companies. There is usually some automation of tasks (eg by using Computer Numerical Control [Computer Numerical Control: the use of computers to control cutting and shaping machines. CNC for short ] machines) and this enables a smaller number of workers to ouput more products.
- Continuous flow production is when many thousands of copies of identical products are made. The difference between this and mass production is that the production line is kept running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to maximise production and eliminate the extra costs of starting and stopping the production process. The process is highly automated and few workers are required.
ICT in industry
Computer-aided design and making are nowadays commonplace in industry. ICT is most often used in mass production, as computer control makes it possible to produce many identical items very quickly. But ICT is also useful in small batch and even one-off work, as computer control also enables complicated shapes to be produced more accurately than by hand.
The box summarises the many roles of ICT in industry:
- Data can be stored electronically and retrieved easily.
- Designs can be modelled on-screen and viewed from any angle.