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Discrete vs Process Manufacturing: Key Differences

By Bjorgvin Gudmundsson, May 14, 2023

Tags: ERP

The world of manufacturing, there are two primary methods for creating products: discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing. These two methods have distinct differences and cater to different industries and production requirements. In this article, we will explore the key differences between discrete and process manufacturing, the industries they serve, and the importance of choosing the right manufacturing process for your business. We will also discuss how inecta Food ERP can provide a comprehensive solution for both discrete and process manufacturing.

Understanding Discrete Manufacturing

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Discrete manufacturing focuses on creating individual items or products, which are countable and made from separate components. These products can be assembled and disassembled, making them suitable for industries that require complex products in low volumes.

Examples of Discrete Manufacturing Products

Discrete manufacturing is commonly used in industries such as automobiles, electronics, apparel, machines, and devices. Products created through discrete manufacturing include:

  • Cars
  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Tools
  • Furniture

Key Features of Discrete Manufacturing

Discrete manufacturing has several unique features that set it apart from process manufacturing:

  • Products are comprised of components that can be touched, counted, and tracked individually.
  • Parts can be broken down and disposed of or recycled after production.
  • Uses Bills of Materials (BOMs) for assembly along a linear or routing assembly line.
  • Involves joining, attaching, fixing, and assembling components.

Understanding Process Manufacturing

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Process manufacturing, on the other hand, involves mixing, processing, and combining raw materials to manufacture products in bulk quantities using a fixed formula or recipe. This method results in chemical and/or thermal conversions, creating products in various forms such as liquid, solid, gel, or powder.

Examples of Process Manufacturing Products

Process manufacturing is used in industries like food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, chemicals, cosmetics, and personal care. Some examples of products created through process manufacturing include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Soft drinks
  • Laundry detergents
  • Ketchup and other condiments
  • Rubber and plastics

Key Features of Process Manufacturing

Process manufacturing has its own set of unique features that distinguish it from discrete manufacturing:

  • Products are manufactured using formulas or recipes.
  • Raw materials cannot be retrieved from the finished products once manufacturing is complete.
  • Involves grinding, boiling, mixing, and churning to create products.
  • Changes in volume, density, mass, and physical properties occur during the manufacturing process.

Comparing Discrete vs Process Manufacturing

To better understand the differences between discrete and process manufacturing, let's compare their key features:

Discrete Manufacturing

Process Manufacturing

Products are comprised of countable components.

Products are manufactured using formulas or recipes.

Parts can be broken down and recycled.

Raw materials cannot be retrieved from finished products.

Uses Bills of Materials (BOMs) for assembly.

Uses formulas or recipes for production.

Involves joining and assembling components.

Involves blending and mixing raw materials.

No change in volume or density during production.

Volume, density, mass, and physical properties change during production.


Industries and Vertical Markets for Discrete and Process Manufacturing

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Both discrete and process manufacturing cater to different industries and vertical markets. Some examples of industries that rely on discrete manufacturing include automotive, electronics, appliances, and machinery. On the other hand, process manufacturing is used in industries such as food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and personal care.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Manufacturing Process and ERP

When choosing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to manage your manufacturing operations, it's essential to consider the fundamental differences between discrete and process manufacturing. Each form of manufacturing requires distinct functionalities and features from an ERP solution.

Discrete Manufacturing ERP

Discrete manufacturing involves the production of distinct items such as automobiles, furniture, or toys. These items can be broken down into their components after production. Discrete manufacturers need an ERP system that supports the assembly of components and manages complex Bill of Materials (BOM). It should also track the lifecycle of the product from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of the finished product.

Key features to look for in a discrete manufacturing ERP include:

  1. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): This feature helps manage all stages of a product’s life, from inception, design, and manufacture, through service and disposal.

  2. Inventory Control: An efficient inventory management tool helps track and control the stock of individual parts and components.

  3. Real-time tracking: Discrete manufacturers need to monitor their production processes in real-time to ensure efficiency and quality.

Process Manufacturing ERP

Process Manufacturing ERPOn the other hand, process manufacturing involves mixing, blending, or compounding components to create a final product. This is common in industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Unlike discrete manufacturing, these products cannot be disassembled back into their original components.

Process manufacturers require an ERP system that can handle recipe or formula-based production and manage the complexities of batch processing. Also, a process manufacturing ERP should track and manage by-products, co-products, and waste materials.

Key features to look for in a process manufacturing ERP include:

  1. Recipe and Formula Management: This allows for the creation and modification of product recipes, ensuring consistent quality and adjusting to variations in raw material quality.

  2. Batch Production and Tracking: The ERP should effectively manage batch production workflows and track batch lots for safety and compliance.

  3. Quality Control and Compliance: Given the stringent regulatory requirements often associated with process industries, a robust quality control mechanism and compliance management tool are crucial.

In conclusion, the choice between discrete and process manufacturing ERP systems hinges on the specific requirements of the manufacturer. Whether you are a discrete manufacturer assembling distinct parts or a process manufacturer blending ingredients, the right ERP system will help streamline your operations, improve efficiency, and ensure compliance.

Inecta Food ERP: Your Solution for Discrete and Process Manufacturing


Inecta Food ERP provides a comprehensive solution for both discrete and process manufacturing businesses. With features such as financial management, supply chain management, CRM, and industry-specific solutions, Inecta Food ERP offers a reliable and cost-effective option for managing your manufacturing processes.

By implementing an ERP solution like Inecta Food ERP, you can streamline your operations, achieve greater efficiency, and increase your ROI. Contact us today to learn more about how Inecta Food ERP can help your discrete or process manufacturing business thrive.


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