Top 8 Manufacturing Methods You Need to Know

Are you a manufacturer having trouble keeping up with all of your customers’ orders? Maybe you’re not using the right manufacturing method. I briefly read about eight manufacturing methods you can use in an article entitled “Small Business Manufacturing Software – 5 Affordable Options” by Derek Singleton, an ERP Market Analyst for Software Advice.

I researched these methods so I can present their strengths and weaknesses, and suggest which manufacturers should use them. Without further ado, here are (in alphabetical order) the top eight manufacturing methods you can use to improve your efficiency:

Configure to Order

Businessman holding 8 ball, Fishbowl BlogWith a Configure-to-Order manufacturing method, manufacturers customize certain parts of a product to meet a customer’s needs. Customizing products can lead to higher customer satisfaction, but it can also slow you down, so be careful. This is a good method for manufacturers that create cars and other large products that have some customizable options.


The Discrete method is probably the first thing people think of when they think of manufacturing. It’s the process of creating distinct products that are simple to count and keep track of. Discrete manufacturing can be used to build simple and complex products, from watches to sailboats, but it’s unable to handle the production of oil and other materials that are hard to separate. Manufacturers that use a lot of bills of materials and parts should definitely consider using this manufacturing method.

Engineer to Order

Engineer to Order is similar to the Configure-to-Order method because it involves customizing products. But it’s different because it specifies that end products won’t be produced until a sales order is received because each product is so unique. Engineer to Order is a good fit for manufacturers that build products that are highly customizable and require a lot of time to produce.

Job Shop

A Job Shop is a manufacturer that fills very specific customer orders and doesn’t mass produce any products. Job Shops treat each manufacturing job as a completely unique task, so they usually produce high-quality products, though they may charge a higher price than other manufacturers. Unfortunately, Job Shops are often slow because their equipment must be retooled for different job types.

Make to Order

In the Make-to-Order method, manufacturers don’t start building a product until they receive a sales order. Since these manufacturers don’t start building a product until the last possible moment, they need to have a strong inventory management system in place to get products built and orders filled as quickly as possible. Make to Order is a good method for manufacturers that produce food and other perishable products.

Mixed Mode

As its name implies, Mixed Mode combines two or more methods, such as Discrete and Process manufacturing. Manufacturers that use several job types to produce different kinds of products should consider using Mixed Mode. The problem is that they could waste time switching between jobs. But Mixed Mode can work if manufacturers plan their schedules well.


The Process method is basically the opposite of Discrete. Manufacturers often use the Process method to produce food, drinks, medicine, chemicals and other things that can’t be easily disassembled. Instead of using parts and bills of materials, manufacturers use ingredients and formulas to produce these items. The Process method doesn’t work well for building lots of individual products, but it’s great for producing hard-to-separate materials like oil and gas.


The Repetitive method allows manufacturers to mass produce products. This method can be used to build a large number of identical products. It helps manufacturers produce small, inexpensive products and more complex products that are in high demand. However, it can be difficult to customize products.

The best way to implement these eight manufacturing methods is by using manufacturing inventory software. It helps you automate processes, generate bills of materials and work orders, and speed up order fulfillment. Manufacturing inventory software is also helpful if you’re not sure exactly which method you should use. The right software can allow you to use all of these methods, so you can try different ones to see which works best.

About Robert Lockard

Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks and small business. Fishbowl Inventory is the #1-requested inventory management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies. His favorite movies include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Fiddler on the Roof, Back to the Future and Lawrence of Arabia.
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