All products cannot be made the same way: the nature of the product determines how it will be produced. Traditionally, these methods have been classified as analytic, synthetic, continuous, and intermittent.
In the analytic process, raw materials are broken down to form new products. An example of this is petroleum refining: crude oil is processed and converted into a vast array of end products.
In a sense, the synthetic process is the opposite of the analytic process, because materials are combined instead of separated to form of certain product. Aluminum production is an example of the synthetic process because processed bauxite is combined with lime and ash. The synthetic process has two variations, the fabrication and the assembly processes.
The fabrication process is a variation of synthetic production in which new products are created from those already manufactured by changing their form. Calvin Klein jeans, for example, are created from cloth, buttons, zippers, trim, and thread joined together according to a pattern.
The assembly process is the variation of synthetic production in which materials or parts are combined without substantial changes. Beechcraft airplanes are made almost entirely by the assembly process. The firm takes Avco Lycoming or Continental engines and ready-made instruments, landing gear, propellers, and other components from outside companies and puts the entire airplane together.
Production processes are called analytic or synthetic because of what is done to raw materials.
Continuous process is a production method that uses the same machinery to perform the same operations repeatedly over relatively long periods of time. Synthetic fibres, chemicals, Bic pens, and disposable razors are made by this process. Machinery runs for months at a time with few if any changes in methods or equipment. A continuous process is used for making cars.
A firm that uses an intermittent process is engaged in a production process that shuts down equipment periodically and readjusts it to make a slightly different product; production does not run the same day in and day out. The intermittent process is used by job shops, companies that make products to customers’ individual specifications. Custom gunsmiths and guitar-makers use an intermittent process: no two units are identical. Wood, glue, and metal are harmonized into a custom guitar by skilled craftsman using the intermittent production process.
Management’s choice of a continuous or intermittent process is governed by the nature of the product and the market the product is meant for. Custom-made products must be manufactured by intermittent process because manufacturing must stop with the completion of each unit. Mass production of identical units lends itself to a continuous process, but even some mass-produced items have elements of an intermittent process, for instance, but must make changes when they print another book.