Last Updated on 10 September 2023
Push production is a production strategy that is considered to be the traditional method of manufacturing. It involves each process starts work when it receives product to work on, i.e. when work is ‘pushed’ towards it. It then passes this product onto the next process, starting their production.
Push vs pull production
The main competitor to push production is called pull production. Instead of each process having its operations being dictated by what product is ‘pushed’ towards it, it produces what the next process requires, or ‘pulls in’.
The end process (shipping) demands what the customer wants, and this demand flows through to the start of the operations.
The main difference is therefore:
- Push production: product is pushed on to the start of the operation which then works through the processes
- Pull production: product is worked on when the next process needs it to fulfil customer demand
Push production is generally associated with traditional operations, whereas pull production is associated with lean.
Advantages of push production
There are advantages of push production, although these are usually less than the advantages of pull, which is why lean generally advocates changing away to pull production.
The main advantage is simplicity. You can create product without needing to plan customer demand or look to closely at orders. You build to sell. This can end up with more finished goods being produced than with other methods, potentially increasing revenue.
Your setup times are reduced, as you can set up a machine for a long production run rather having to keep changing your setup. As setup time can sometimes be a large proportion of your production time, converting to long production runs can greatly increase your efficiency.
Disadvantages of push production
The main disadvantage is that you don’t know when you’re building your product that you will be able to sell it in a timely manner. There is a huge cost to this, both in terms of tying up working capital and potentially having to write off stock that is aged or where the design has changed.
With push production, you may be prioritizing the wrong product. If you are creating product A but your customer is requiring more of product C, you will end up with product A building up in your organization (leading to inventory waste), and still potentially not having enough finished goods to meet your customer demand. This will harm sales, both through not having the right inventory in stock but equally not meeting customer deadlines.
When do you use push production?
It’s easy to get the impression from lean that you should never use push production, but it does sometimes have its uses. It is a very simple method of production and so uses very little resources to plan.
The main advatage therefore is where production is very simple. If you only make one product which lasts forever and demand is high, you are likely to be able to make the most product without worrying about ‘just in time’ or ‘pull production’. In these cases, you just want to focus on making as much output as is possible, and so you can use push production.
As production gets more complicated, such as demand fluctuates, you have multiple product lines or your product has a set shelf life, pull production becomes more favorable.
How do you perform push production?
- Decide production levels: for effective push production, you should know approximately what you intend to sell.
- Production schedule: you then create a production schedule that will produce enough of each type of product.
- Begin manufacturing: you then start your production line and start ‘pushing’ the raw material on at the start
- Sell your product