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"Originally, very small numbers of products were made by craftsmen in home workshops. But, the increasing demand for consumer goods following the industrial revolution, meant that larger numbers of products needed to be manufactured in a more efficient way" -HSC Online

5.3.1 Define mechanisation.

A volume production process involving machines controlled by humans.

Mechanisation is the industrial use of machines where (advanced) technology takes over the work previously done by humans when manufacturing a product. Mechanisation is a faster and cheaper process than human labour when a product needs to be manufactured in large quantities. It utilises the concept of economies of scale which means that production costs per unit lower when more products need to be manufactured.

5.3.2 Describe how the availability of new sources of power in the Industrial Revolution led to the introduction of mechanisation.

Refer to water and steam power.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, industrial power mainly came from the harnessing of the elements using kinetic energy. An example of this is water power, in which water from a body of water (e.g. a stream) flows or falls and activates a mechanism such as a wheel, which could then be used to generate power. A water wheel (see image one), for instance, could be used to power the bellows (see image number 2) of a furnace found in a workshop for blacksmiths or metal workers.

Water wheels Newcomen Steam Engine Heron (Hero) Steam Engine

The earliest steam engine was built around the 1st century in Alexandria, Egypt (Graeco-Roman Era) by a Greek mathematician named Hero(Heron). The name of the device he created that exploited steam as a source of energy was called an aeolipile. It was not used for industrial purposes, however, since the primary source of industrial power came from slaves and livestock. Later on, a steam turbine was created by Tariq el-Din, a 16th century inventor and engineer in Ottoman Egypt, to use for grilling meat.

The most famous example of a device that used steam power for the advancement of industry is the steam pump Invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 and later improved by James Watt.

5.3.3 Define assembly-line production.

The mass production of a product via a flow line based on the inter-changeability of parts, pre-processing of materials, standardisation and work division

The use of an assembly line for manufacturing a product is a manufacturing technique where the product in question is moved from one modification stand to another by a mechanically moving conveyor. It is used to gather in a fast way large amounts of uniform products. By the modification stands is meant the places where the line pauses so the people in that area can modify their part of the product. The origins of the Assembly line can be traced back to 1908, when Henry Ford invented and used for the first time the assembly line for the manufacturing of his Ford Model T.

Garbage Bin Lids Chrysler Production Line

5.3.4 Explain the relevance of assembly-line production to mechanisation.

Refer to economics, design of products, effect on the workforce and consumer choice.

Mechanisation and assembly line production increase productivity that was able to satisfy consumer demand. Consumer goods such as cars and radios were produced on assembly lines. They could be made quickly and cheaply as a result, this encouraged demand which in turn created more jobs.

  • Working conditions may not have been the best (safety and health issues) but the financial benefits for the workers outweighed the risks.
  • The design of products became more component to component and sub assembly to sub assembly.
  • Less customisation of products therefore less choice.
  • However easily to replace a product with the same product
  • The cost of a Model T fell from USD850 in 1908 to USD290 in 1925 making it more affordable for the masses. This demand for the car spurned on other industries such as rubber and steel and so on.

Mechanization incorporated with an assembly line proves to be the most efficient way in order to carry out mass production, which is generally the manufacturing trend of the 20th and the 21st centuries. An assembly line saves time, and while one product could be completely manufactured before the next one is made, instead small aspects of many cars are being made and fitted at the same time. The high demand for various products places manufacturers in a position to incorporate assembly lines in factories. Even though earlier forms of the assembly line existed prior to the industrial revolution and the incorporation of mechanization in manufacturing, the process was immensely sped up and made more efficient by mechanization. A motor will undertake repetitive movements in order to remake specific parts of, for example, cars, allowing for mass production. Furthermore, mechanization ensures precision and accuracy in manufacturing beyond human input, which allows for less time assigned for corrections in the product. Moreover, less manpower is needed, proving to be economically profitable for the manufacturer.

Ford Assembly line 8th Grade Project

5.3.5 Outline two advantages and two disadvantages of mechanising a production process.

Consider cost, quality of product, social conditions and labour.


  • The creation of economies of scale ... the product is cheaper
  • The quality of the product is improved as fewer human errors will occur, the finish of the product will also be improved.
  • Often repetitive dirty tasks can be carried out by machines.
  • Increased wages due to training and becoming skilled.
  • efficiency of production: less time is taken to produce goods


  • Redundancy - machinery for labour substitution
  • Health and safety. Work conditions are usually poor in the factories, lack of safety standards can be an issue in some cases. Repetitive strain injury.
  • Cost of energy, training and capital machinery. Increased wages due to highly skilled operators needed.
  • Environmental pollution.
  • boredom for the workers
  • low job satisfaction for workers

5.3.6 Define batch production and mass production.

Batch production
Limited volume production (a set number of items to be produced).
Mass production
The production of large amounts of standardised products on production lines, permitting very high rates of production per worker.

Batch production

Batch production is a manufacturing method used to produce or process any product in batches, as opposed to a continuous production process, or an one-off production. The primary characteristic of batch production is that all components are completed at a workstation before they move to the next one. Batch production is popular in bakeries and in the manufacture of sports shoes, pharmaceutical ingredients, inks, paints and adhesives.

There are inefficiencies associated with batch production. The production equipment must be stopped, re-configured, and its output tested before the next batch can be produced.

Batch production is useful for a factory that makes seasonal items or products for which it is difficult to forecast demand. Batch production has many "pros" and "cons" but is effective and used worldwide, mainly by larger businesses on higher profit margins. Batch production is also to test if the product is good and the company makes profit from customers buying it.

There are several advantages of batch production; it can reduce initial capital outlay because a single production line can be used to produce several products. As shown in the example, batch production can be useful for small businesses who cannot afford to run continuous production lines. Also, companies can use batch production as a trial run. If a retailer buys a batch of a product that does not sell then the producer can cease production without having to sustain huge losses.


Mass production.

Mass production is the method of creating many products in a short time period. There are many techniques used during mass production such as assembly lines. These techniques allow the manufacturer to produce more artefacts per worker-hour, and to lower the labour cost of the end product. But even though the cost is low it does not mean the quality is bad. Mass-produced goods are standardised by means of precision-manufactured, interchangeable parts.

5.3.7 Compare batch production and mass production in a mechanised production system.

Consider market needs, consumer choice, product differentiation and economies of scale.

Using batch production, a limited amount of a certain product is made, and not increased. Therefore, profits are limited, however, because of low availability, marketing is enhanced, when a product is “limited” there is usually more demand for it, and therefore sales are increased. However, with mass production, although there are higher amounts, and therefore more room for products (they are continually made and high rates), demand may stop, and will not get higher quickly, as the product “will always be there” to buy. With batch production, even for simple limited choice, the fact that there are not many of them will convince consumers to buy. However, mass production, allows for much larger sales and profit, if marketed and sold well. With batch production, after a limited batch number is complete, the company, can move to a new product, thereby created product variety, and easily keeping up with the market. While although it is hard for mass producer to keep with new market trends, if demand for a product is high, and it is mass-produced, many sales will be made, yielding high amounts of profit. -- Fady Yacoub

Fashion watches Newspaper Production

What prevented Ford from responding to market trends? The fact that the model T was at large scale mass production, so the company would make loss if they stopped sales of it, they had to get through there old mass-produced model, before they could move on.

Batch Mass
Market needs Can adjust sooner to trends Takes longer to adjust to trends
Consumer choice Can be greater as more different batches can be produced of similar products Less choice
Product differentiation Greater Less
Economies of scale Better than craft but less than that of Mass/Automation Very good and cheap products


Bulleted list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007.

Images are clickable links to its location.

Steam May 2008. May 12, 2008.

Steam Power during the Industrial 8 May 2008. May 12, 2008. May 2008. May 12, 2008.

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Page last modified on March 12, 2013, at 12:09 AM