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Mixed-mode manufacturing is on the rise as manufacturers face mounting pressure to deliver higher levels of customisation at competitive prices.

To manage the complexities of mixed-mode operations, manufacturers need a flexible, fit-for-purpose ERP solution that centralises production data and provides actionable insight.

But let’s pause for just a moment.

What is mixed-mode manufacturing, and why is it such a complex puzzle for Australian manufacturers?

There are two types of manufacturers

Generally speaking, manufacturing operations follow one of two models:

1. Discrete manufacturing

Products are comprised of parts, pieces and materials that can be counted in a bill of materials (BOM).

Discrete manufacturing is linear, resulting in end products that can be broken down into individual parts.

Cars, computers, furniture and aeroplanes are some of the best representations of discrete manufacturing.

They are all made of nuts, bolts, wires and other components listed on a BOM or multi-level BOMs.

2. Process manufacturing

Process manufacturing uses a formula or recipe to create products that can’t be broken down into individual parts.

Food, pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, metals, cosmetics and plastics are all examples of process manufacturing.

They blend ingredients in a batch that can’t be disassembled after the fact.

Mixed-mode manufacturing

Any manufacturer who combines discrete and process manufacturing under one roof qualifies as a “mixed-mode” manufacturer.

For example, a manufacturer who blends metals to create an alloy used to build a product downstream implements process manufacturing followed by discrete manufacturing.

Mixed-mode manufacturing presents a slew of logistical challenges for rigid business management software.

Inventory control

Discrete manufacturing relies on ‘picking’ items from a shelf according to a clear BOM, whereas process manufacturing has a more complex ratio-based inventory control requirement.

Production tracking

Everything from quality control to process flow and cost analysis to yield differs between discrete and process manufacturing.

Therefore, business systems that measure and interpret the inputs and outputs of each production stage do so differently.

Bridging two siloed systems in a mixed-mode operation quickly becomes a matter for a master interpreter rather than a production manager.


Tracking and substituting faulty parts and hazardous components is more straightforward in discrete manufacturing.

The BOM enables manufacturers to halt operations and substitute one component for another.

But in process manufacturing, the traceability issue spans the entire supply chain, forcing manufacturers to keep accurate records of which ingredients from what suppliers ended up in the end product.

How a flexible cloud-based ERP enables mixed-mode manufacturing

Flexibility is the basis for solving these logistical challenges to allow manufacturers to boost productivity.

With a flexible, modular ERP system, production managers can switch between production methods as process-manufactured products enter the discrete production line.

It all comes down to the core business problem that manufacturing ERPs like Jobman focus on: centralising and simplifying operational data for complete end-to-end transparency.

It’s important to remember that every mixed-mode manufacturer is unique.

So while a traditional ERP designed for a particular manufacturing model will solve specific challenges, a cloud-based manufacturing ERP like Jobman provides agility at scale.

Schedule a free demonstration to determine whether Jobman can solve your business challenges and unlock productivity.

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