Design & Technology – Systems and practices


Production systems consist of inputs, processes, outputs and feedback. There are different scales of food production that require different kinds of equipment. CAD and CAM can be used to design, test, and monitor processes. Standard components can be used to speed up production. Safety is ensured through hazard analysis and critical control point checks.

Production systems

The production process can be viewed as a system, incorporating the following elements:

stages of the production process
  • Inputs are everything that goes into the system, such as the ingredients.
  • Processes include weighing, mixing, shaping and forming of mixtures, cooking, cooling, and packaging. Checks are carried out throughout the process.
  • Output is the end product, complete with packaging.
  • Feedback can happen throughout the production process. Control checks flag up the need for alteration and improvement to the inputs or processes.

Manufacturing methods

Milk bottles are inspected by a worker as they move along the production line.

There are different types of manufacturing systems which are suitable for different scales of production.

  • One-off production is when a single product is made, for example a designer wedding cake. This is classed as a luxury food item.
  • Batch production involves making of a set number of identical products. Typically batch production is used in a bakery, where a certain number of different types of loaves will be made every morning.
  • Mass production is used to make foods on a large scale. The production line involves repetitive tasks so machines are often used. This saves time and helps lower the cost of production.
  • Continuous-flow production is a high-volume production method where machines run 24 hours a day. It is often used to produce milk and packet pizzas.

Computer aided design

Computers are essential in the development and manufacture of food products. Computer Aided Design (CAD) helps create, modify and communicate information efficiently. Computer modelling allows designers to test models and changes without carrying them out.

CAD is used for:

  • Nutritional analysis software provides nutritional information to help create foods for a balanced diet
  • Simulate changes to inputs and processes so the impact of modifications can be predicted
  • Calculate costs and amounts of ingredients needed for batch production
  • Packaging design and advertising decisions using graphics and 3D modelling software
  • Sensory profile software is used in testing and can analyse and rank results
  • Production flowcharts show where Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) checks need to be included in the factory processes

Computer aided manufacture

Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) efficiently controls and monitors production using computers. Multiple processes can be carried out at the same time.


CAM is used to:

  • monitor temperature
  • monitor weight
  • check pH
  • control conveyor belt speed
  • monitor quantities of ingredients


  • more consistent results
  • reduces labour costs
  • improves accuracy, reducing waste
  • faster for high-volume production
  • improved saftey and hygiene
  • easier monitoring


  • expensive to set up
  • needs skilled operators
  • can be slower for one-off or low-volume production


A range of electrical and mechanical equipment is used to make sure that products are consistent, or to reduce the time and effort required.

Equipment used and purpose

Electronic scalesWeigh food accurately
DepositorPut exact amounts of ingredients into different containers at the same time
MandolinSlice food portions equally
Food processorBlends and mixes ingredients
Hand blenderUsed to purée food eg in soups
Dough hookMixing and kneading dough
Electric whiskWhisks ingredients saving time and effort
CuttersEnsure food is the same shape and size eg biscuit cutters
Temperature probeCheck temperatures in high risk foods
Tunnel ovenEnsures continuous even cooking using a conveyor belt
Deck ovenCooks a batch of several foods at the same time
Boiling vatsHuge drums used for cooking liquids eg soups, chocolate
Date-stamping machineLabel packaged food with a date stamp

Equipment should be matched to the desired outcome eg a thick or thin cut vegetables in a sauce.

Standard components

A range of pre-made bottled sauces in a supermarket.

A standard component is a pre-prepared ingredient that is used in the production of a food product. Examples of standard components are:

  • pizza bases
  • ready-made sauces
  • ready-made cake mixes
  • frozen pastry
  • ready-made icing
  • stock cubes

Advantages of using standard components

  • ensures consistency
  • saves time and effort
  • less skill required by staff
  • less specialist equipment needed
  • can reduce costs
  • components bought in bulk
  • reduces risk – high risk foods prepared elsewhere

Disadvantages of using standard components

  • less reliable – one manufacturer depends on another
  • components can be more expensive
  • sensory qualities may not be as good as fresh ingredients
  • large amount of storage space
  • time needed for ordering and delivery

Reducing hazards

A worker checks eggs coming off a production line.

Potential hazards in food production can be reduced by a system called hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP). This identifies what could go wrong in the production process and establishes checks that will prevent or reduce risks. This is called hazard analysis.

Hazard analysis

There are three main types of hazard in food production:

  • Biological hazard – foods become dangerously infected by bacteria which might lead to food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning can include diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches and fever.
  • Physical hazard – foreign materials can cause injury to the consumer. These could come from metal or plastic from factory machinery, or natural hazards like bones in fish.
  • Chemical hazard – potentially dangerous chemicals like cleaning fluids or pesticides contaminate food. These could cause severe illness.

Critical control points

Critical control points (CCPs) are pre-determined checks that take place at specified points in the food production or preparation process. They include:

  • temperatures, using probes and thermometers
  • cooking times
  • ensuring food is handled correctly

The checks are documented and include the processes being checked, any faults and any action taken. Checks can be done by hand or using CAM.

Personal hygiene

Good personal hygiene is essential during food preparation and production because it helps to reduce hazards. It is a legal requirement to report any illness to a supervisor.



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