Discrete manufacturing describes the process of manufacturing or assembling items that are distinct and easily counted, such as a lamp or a carton of cereal. Discreet items can be either finished goods ready for sale, or components waiting to be assembled into a finished good. Discreet manufacturing uses a Bill of Materials (listing of components) as well as steps to produce the product (routing steps).
Discrete Manufacturing differs from Process Manufacturing in that a Bill of Material is used in Discreet Manufacturing, while a Recipe is used in Process Manufacturing to create a batch of product. A good example of Process Manufacturing is when a batch of a food product is being made, such as a flavoring syrup. Frequently, the Recipe must be adjusted during manufacturing as quality tests are performed on the batch to test for chemical, visual and taste profiles, and once those ingredients are modified and pass the QA testing, the batch of product can be considered completed. The term Batch Processing is typically synonymous with Process Manufacturing.
Interestingly, most Process Manufacturers also perform a certain amount of Discrete Manufacturing. For example, as in the example above, there is a recipe to produce a batch of flavoring syrup. There is also a Bill of Material to produce a case of finished product, which calls for a discreet quantity of “batch product”, containers, caps, labels and a carton. This combination of Process and Discrete is one example of “Mixed Mode” manufacturing.