Mass production

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Mass production (also called flow production, repetitive flow production, series production, or serial production) is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines. The concepts of mass production are applied to various kinds of products, from fluids and particulates handled in bulk (such as food, fuel, chemicals, and mined minerals) to discrete solid parts (such as fasteners) to assemblies of such parts (such as household appliances and automobiles).

The term mass production originated from a 1926 article in the Encyclopedia Britannica supplement that was written based on correspondence with Ford Motor Co. The New York Times used the term in the title of an article that appeared before publication of the Britannica article.[1]



Mass production of assemblies typically uses electric-motor-powered moving tracks or conveyor belts to move partially complete products to workers, who perform simple repetitive tasks. It improves on earlier high-throughput, continuous-flow mass production made possible by the steam engine.

Mass production of fluid and particulate matter typically involves pipes with centrifugal pumps or screw conveyors (augers) to transfer raw materials or partially complete product between vessels. Fluid flow processes such as oil refining and bulk materials such as wood chips and pulp are automated using a system of process control which uses various instruments to measure variables such as temperature, pressure, volumetric throughput and level, providing feedback to a controller that holds a setpoint.

Bulk materials such as coal, ores, grains and wood chips are handled by belt, chain, pneumatic or screw conveyors, bucket elevators and mobile equipment such as front end loaders. Materials on pallets are handled with fork lifts. Also used for handling heavy items like reels of paper, steel or machinery are electric overhead cranes, sometimes called bridge cranes because they span large factory bays.

Mass production is capital intensive and energy intensive, as it uses a high proportion of machinery and energy in relation to workers. It is also usually automated to the highest extent possible. With fewer labour costs and a faster rate of production, capital and energy are increased while total expenditure per unit of product is decreased. However, the machinery that is needed to set up a mass production line (such as robots and machine presses) is so expensive that there must be some assurance that the product is to be successful to attain profits.

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