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High-Mix Low-Volume (HMLV) Manufacturing

What Is High-Mix Low-Volume Manufacturing?

High-Mix Low-Volume (HMLV) Manufacturing, also referred to as make-to-order manufacturing, is the process of producing a high variety of products in small quantities. This production method is commonly used to manufacture unique and more complex products with specific quality requirements. 

High-Mix Low-Volume vs Low-Mix High-Volume Manufacturing:

HMLV manufacturing is the exact opposite of Low-Mix High-Volume (LMHV) manufacturing, which executes large volumes of product but with little-to-no distinction between the goods. This method of manufacturing was very popular for many decades as the consumer’s market demand started to increase. But over the years, the industrial sector has since evolved to manufacture products with maximum efficiency and high quality. Goods that were once considered high volume such as vehicles or appliances, are now custom made and tailored to customers, thus, are created in HMLV production. 

Companies that are looking to optimize operations are typically looking at lean manufacturing techniques, such as root cause analysis, run to target manufacturing, or total productive maintenance. Most of these methods utilize high volume production processes. However, low volume manufacturing businesses are more volatile because of the increased variation of products/services. This is why businesses improving operations in high-mix low-volume must adapt lean manufacturing practices when applied to this environment. 

What Are the Benefits of High-Mix Low-Volume Manufacturing?

  • Improved customization of products
  • Increased responsiveness to customers
  • Cut costs as a result of less inventory in storage

What Are the Steps to Improving Operations in High-Mix Low-Volume Manufacturing?

HMLV manufacturing requires constant changes in jobs, materials, and machines. With a limited number of production lines and a large variety of product requests, operators working in HMLV environments must constantly change scheduling of jobs and materials,  which can often lead to errors and inconsistency in products. Here are four steps to improving production operations in these environments. 

  1. Optimize flow – the first step in optimizing operations in low volume manufacturing is to create a smooth product flow, despite the many product variations. 
  2. Create a plan – once you create an effective flow, or plan, aligning on a product flow plan enables manufacturers to better predict outcomes and eliminate failures in production.
  3. Improve communication between employees – an open environment provides staff, from every department in the company, the ability to check the status of production and alert operators accordingly. 
  4. Uphold flexibility – every aspect in a factory, from inventory to machines to scheduling of staff needs to remain flexible in order to handle the constant changes needed with HMLV manufacturing. 

Deploy a real-time shop floor control software – it’s crucial for maintaining support across all departments 24/7. With smart notifications and one centralized platform to access all jobs, statuses, and KPIs, there is less error in communication and increased productivity amongst staff.

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