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Design & Technology

Systems and production methods

A system includes inputs, processes, outputs and often feedback. Manufacturing systems are planned using flowcharts, and controlled by visual, mechanical or electronic devices. Quality control checks that products meet the design specification and quality. There are different scales of production system and many of them use CAM [CAM: Stands for Computer-Aided Manufacturing - the use of computers to assist in any of the phases of manufacturing a product. ]. Everyone involved in designing and making products has a responsibility to minimise risks.


A system is a set of components arranged to carry out a particular function. They may include mechanical, electrical or electronic components.

An open loop system starts with Input, then Processing, then Output

  • Input is what goes into the system. For example:
    • - brief from customer
    • - artwork from designer
    • - materials
  • Process is the shaping and forming of the materials, or the exchange of information needed to effect the output. For example:
    • - printing sample copies
    • - adjusting machines
    • - cutting materials
  • Output is what comes out of the system. For example:
    • - a mock-up
    • - a satisfied customer
    • - the product

System feedback

Most systems have a fourth element - feedback - which is a way of changing the input or process as a result of what happens at the output.

The closed loop system goes from Input to Processing to Output to Feedback, and back to Input

In a production system, feedback means checking that the product meets the specification and adjusting the process to make sure it does.

Many systems have automatic feedback, where feedback from one part of the system switches another part of the system on or off. This sort of system is called a closed system.

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