In general, batch manufacturing (the opposite of a cellular manufacturing system) is oriented around a process. You might have a cutting group, a welding group, a grinding group, etc. Each workgroup is structured based on what they do. These clusters of machines produce long runs of a product according to a work schedule and deliver piles of work-in-process to the next operation in the value stream. Note: To clear up a confusing point, these process based groups are often referred to as ‘cells’. This process based ‘cell’ does not make the company a cellular manufacturing.
In a cellular manufacturing system, this changes to a layout based on how the product should flow.
Batch Manufacturing is organized by process; A Lean company uses Cellular Manufacturing to organize by product.
A key component of cellular manufacturing is, obviously, the cell, or work cell.Cells are characterized by a focus on a single product or product group. They are arranged for flow with machines and stations located in close proximity. The goal should be to set up single-piece flow in the Lean work cell. The most efficient configuration is the u-shaped cell, but you may also see work cells arranged in other (less effective) configurations, such as a straight line or an ‘L’.
Typically, products are grouped using a tool called PQ/PR analysis (Product quantity/Process routing, or Parts Quantity/Process Routing). This Lean tool lets you form work cellsbased on similar process requirements.