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Low-Mix High-Volume (LMHV)

What is Low-Mix High-Volume Manufacturing?

Low-Mix High-Volume (LMHV) manufacturing is a production model that enables businesses to produce large volumes of limited products that have high demand. Low-Mix High-Volume production strategies are typically characterized by highly optimized and repeatable processes.

  • “Low-mix” refers to the low number of product lines that are produced by one manufacturer.
  • “High-volume” refers to the high volume of finished products.

A good example of a Low-Mix High-Volume production would be a beer manufacturer. Many brewing companies will have only one product line. Since they can focus all their efforts on optimizing and automating the mass production of one product, they’ll be able to create more beer faster for their intended market.

However, flexibility to market demand will be lacking when compared to HMLV (high-mix low-volume) manufacturers who can quickly hop on new trends in the market.

Key Takeaways

  • Low-Mix High-Volume manufacturing is a production model that focuses on producing a high volume of only a few products.

  • The advantage of Low-Mix High-Volume is the ability to highly optimize the production line with repeatable and automated processes.

  • The disadvantage of LMHV is the inability to shift production with market demand.

  • The opposite of Low-Mix High-Volume manufacturing is High-Mix Low-Volume.

How Do LMHV Operations Work?

Low-mix high-volume manufacturing is characterized by linear and highly repeatable production processes. This type of operation is used by companies like Coca-Cola and Toyota. In Coca-Cola’s case, every soda is produced in a high-speed repeatable process with little variation. Similarly, companies like Toyota mass produce their cars in a repeatable production line that has very few variations.

high volume manufacturing

Toyota actually uses the same components for many of their cars, further enabling them to standardize repeatable and highly efficient practices.

To a certain extent, LMHV production environments can produce a greater number of products in a short time due to the lack of variations within their operations. Everything can be streamlined because everything is repeated with high frequency.

For this reason, high-volume orders are more cost-effective for these manufacturers. Restructuring the production line between products occurs less often. For this reason, most Low-Mix High-Volume manufacturers will not accept small orders.

However, high-volume operations have very little flexibility. Changes in the product line or production methods are often slow and come with a potentially sizable investment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of LMHV

LMHV Advantages

  • Create more products quickly: The greatest advantage of this type of production environment is that you can produce a lot of quality products in a very short period. With repetitive movements, every action can be streamlined and optimized.
  • Profitable for large orders: When producing high quantities of limited products, the larger the order the more cost-effective the operation can be.
  • Allows manufacturers to stay ahead of the competition: Advanced production techniques and new technologies make the production of your goods more efficient, faster, and with greater consistency. These qualities allow high-volume manufacturers to get their products out to market faster and in greater volume.

LMHV Disadvantages

  • Inflexible production: Since this type of manufacturing is based on highly repeatable processes, most Low-Mix High-Volume organizations will lack the ability to change production strategies quickly. Once a high-volume production line is set up and optimized, it is difficult, slow, and expensive to make changes.
  • Not cost-effective for small orders: Small orders require less repetition. Within an automated production line, repetition enables the process to be cost-effective. For this reason, high-volume manufacturers shouldn't take on small contracts.
  • Significant initial investment costs: In contrast to its counterpart, HMLV, Low-Mix High-Volume facilities require a significantly higher investment up front. Automated machinery along with properly structuring the production line is expensive any way you look at it.

How to Optimize Low-Mix High-Volume Operations

With manufacturing advancements brought forth by the 3rd and 4th industrial revolutions, Low-Mix High-Volume manufacturers have several intelligent solutions to help optimize their production lines.

Use Worker Centric Technology

What often gets overlooked in Low-Mix High-Volume environments is the contributions of the worker. Employees are the ones setting up the machines and ensuring that the operation runs smoothly. If an automated process is not calibrated properly, defective products can be made very quickly, incurring a lot of waste.

To ensure that every machine is set up properly and no waste will be incurred, employ digital work instructions to standardize every process. Despite most of the work being facilitated by machinery and repeatable worker processes, there are still complex and important operations that workers need guidance to effectively and consistently accomplish.

Tools like work instruction software guide workers through every step of the process, enabling high-volume manufacturers to rely less on tribal knowledge and more on the best practices their company has to offer.

machine set up technology

Standardize Time Management

While standardization of your processes is important, it is equally crucial that you standardize 2 key time management functions.

  • How long the work takes: Fluctuations in cycle time from day to day will make it almost impossible to optimize any production environment, especially for manufacturers involved in high-volume productions.
  • When work occurs: While it may be easy to think that operations always occur in sequence, many operations can occur at the same time. Standardizing when work can be accomplished will help to optimize every hour of the day.

To help standardize these two functions, create a detailed process map of your operations for each product you produce. This map will help you understand key time benchmarks that need to be adhered to while also allowing you to optimize how various operations can be accomplished concurrently.

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Pro Tip

You can take this process a step further by performing Value Stream Mapping when creating a detailed process map. This will help you track how value moves through your operations.

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