Discrete Manufacturing

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What is discrete manufacturing?

Discrete manufacturing is where finished distinct products are created and assembled.

What are discrete manufacturing examples?

Almost every item sold in stores is an example of discrete manufacturing. What is meant by discrete manufacturing is that the object being created is a distinct unit. You can divide non-distinct products, like oil, into any size you want. You cannot divide a teapot into two halves because it is a distinct unit.

Examples of discrete manufacturing could include:

  • vehicles
  • aircraft
  • smartphones
  • computers
  • cookware
  • clothing
  • cabling

It could also include component parts such as:

  • nuts
  • bolts
  • brackets.

These component parts can be individually countable as units, or identifiable as numbers. Usually once produced, items cannot be distilled back into original components.

Discrete manufacturing can be characterized by unit production; where units can be produced with high complexity and low volume, like aircrafts or computers, or low complexity and high volume, like nuts or bolts.

What is the difference between discrete and process manufacturing?

Process manufacturing relies on creating formulas or recipes to produce a product, whereas discrete manufacturing assembles parts in a prescribed process to produce a distinct item. While discrete manufacturing creates products that are differentiated by individual units, process manufacturing does not. While discrete manufacturing produces individual units, like smartphones, process manufacturing produces indistinct units, like salt, oil, and water.

The following products are good examples of process manufacturing:

  • food
  • beverages
  • pharmaceuticals
  • chemicals
  • plastics

What is the difference between manufacturing and assembly?

Manufacturing involves taking raw materials and using them to craft a part or component. A company may manufacture springs from hardened steel. Assembly is the process of taking parts, often made by manufacturing, and arranging them in a specified way. For example, a machine may assemble steel springs inside computer mice.