What is a job shop? Definition and examples

A job shop is a small company or business that makes specific products for one customer at a time. It is a manufacturing unit that specializes in small quantities of tailor-made or custom-built parts. The unit makes each product according to customer specifications, i.e., it makes bespoke products. It deals in customization.

This type of business only produces specific goods when it receives an order for them.

In the United Kingdom, a job shop may also refer to an organization that helps job seekers find employment.

This article focuses on the meaning of the term when it refers to a small business that makes things for specific customers.

Wiktionary has these two definitions of the term:

“1. A business or facility specializing in the manufacture or fabrication of parts in relatively small quantities, produced to the specifications or requirements supplied by the customer.”

“2. (production management) A production unit that processes jobs each of which requires processing at multiple workstations, in any order, which processing may vary in time taken at each workstation.”

Job Shop - definition
According to Wikipedia: “In a job shop product flow is twisted, also notice that in this drawing each shop contains a single machine.” (Image source: Wikipedia)

Job shop – manufacturing

A job shop is a kind of manufacturing process. It makes small batches of custom goods, i.e., specifically for one customer.

Most of the goods it makes require a specific set-up.

In most cases, job shops make custom parts for other businesses. In other words, their customers are not typically consumers, i.e., end users, but rather other companies. When consumers buy things, they neither sell them on nor use them to make something that they then sell.

A job shop may be a paint shop or a machine tool shop. Gear manufacturing, jig-boring, honing, grinding, and fabrication shops, for example, might also be job shops.

According to In.com:

These businesses deal in customization, and relatively small production runs, not volume and standardization.”

When the shop releases products, it usually does so in batches. People often refer to the batches as ‘jobs.’

Wikipedia says that the opposite of job shops would be “continuous flow manufactures such as textile, steel, food manufacturing and manual labor.”

Each ‘job’ is specific to the customer. Therefore, the job shop needs to be flexible. It must be able to switch from one manufacturing system or sequence to another rapidly.

That is why general purpose machines are suitable for job shops. They are suitable because they can perform many different types of operations in a small area.

Job shop vs. chop shop

Do not confuse the term with ‘chop shop,’ which may sound similar but has a very different meaning.

A chop shop is a business that disassembles stolen cars and other vehicles. It then sells them as parts, or uses the parts to put cars together for sale. Many of the vehicles they sell are stolen.

Often, a chop shop will prepare vehicles for sale in other countries.