Combining methods of production
The factors that affect the choice of production method are also likely to encourage firms to use a variety of production methods to satisfy the needs of customers in different market segments.
The burger, or fast food market, tends to work along the principles of batch production with a number of identical burgers being produced at a time. However, where demand is lower for certain products, e.g. vegetarian burgers, these may be made to order, i.e. job production.
Subway, for instance, produces batches of rolls or 'subs', but consumers are able to customise the fillings to a certain extent within the options available.
Mass production can be customised through the use of greater automation and robots in the production line. Until recently, assembly lines were built on the principle of the standardisation of products. Under this production method, any change in the nature of the finished product would require the line to be stopped, new tools or materials added and/or existing equipment to be recalibrated. However, robotic technology may be programmed to produce varying sizes and finishes. Paints, for example, can be changed rapidly by the rotation of nozzles.
The technology market in particular combines methods of production. Dell traditionally sells online and customers can order a number of standardised products, which are produced using assembly line operations. However, during the order process, additional options can be selected. This additional flexibility may threaten the existence of smaller firms which do not enjoy the lower costs associated with mass production, but whose greater choice and flexibility to meet customer needs previously justified the higher price they inevitably charged.