Application of the principles of specialization, division of labour, and standardization of parts to the manufacturing of goods on a large scale. Modern mass-production methods have led to such improvements in the cost, quality, quantity, and variety of goods available that the largest global population in history is now sustained at the highest general standard of living ever. The requirements for mass production of a particular product include the existence of a market large enough to justify a large investment; a product design that can use standardized parts (see interchangeable parts) and processes; a physical layout that minimizes materials handling; division of labour into simple, short, repetitive steps (see time-and-motion study); continuous flow of work; and tools designed specifically for the tasks to be performed. See also assembly line.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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