What Is the Manufacturing Assembly Process?

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Technicians working on an assembly line in a factory.
Technicians working on an assembly line in a factory. (Image: Mihajlo Maricic/iStock/Getty Images)

A manufacturing assembly line is a production process consisting of automated and manual steps. At each step, a component or piece is add to the product until it becomes a finished good.

Assembly Line Benefits

Assembly lines have existed since the early 1900s. Primary advantages relative to other manufacturing processes include reduced production times, minimized equipment costs and standardized products. The goal is to get a finished product off the line as quickly and affordably as possible. A low cost per unit improves the ability of the manufacturer to make money on a product. The ability to automate steps in the assembly process further enhances production efficiency.

Assembly Line Drawbacks

The most significant drawback of assembly lines is bottlenecks. Since products move sequentially through the manufacturing process, a delay or slowdown at any stage prevents production from continuing. Thus, the inherent efficiency advantages are lost. Production delays mean higher costs to make goods, which negatively affects profit. Many manufacturers also face pressure to meet just-in-time inventory requirements of their buyers. Therefore, even minor delays can cause a business to miss buyer deadlines. Missed deadlines may lead to lost customers.

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