Another consideration is that products and services often go through life cycles that begin
with low volume, which increases as products or services become better known.
These process types are found in a wide range of manufacturing and service settings. The
ideal is to have process capabilities match product or service requirements. Failure to do so
can result in inefficiencies and higher costs than are necessary, perhaps creating a competitive
disadvantage. Table 6.1 provides a brief description of each process type along with advantages
and disadvantages of each.
Figure 6.2 provides an overview of these four process types in the form of a matrix, with
an example for each process type. Note that job variety, process flexibility, and unit cost are
highest for a job shop and get progressively lower moving from job shop to continuous processing.
Conversely, volume of output is lowest for a job shop and gets progressively higher
moving from job shop to continuous processing. Note, too, that the examples fall along the
diagonal. The implication is that the diagonal represents the ideal choice of processing system
for a given set of circumstances. For example, if the goal is to be able to process a small
volume of jobs that will involve high variety, job shop processing is most appropriate. For less
variety and a higher volume, a batch system would be most appropriate, and so on. Note that
combinations far from the diagonal would not even be considered, such as using a job shop
for high-volume, low-variety jobs, or continuous processing for low-volume, high-variety
jobs, because that would result in either higher than necessary costs or lost opportunities.