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The factory was opened in 1996 and is one of the most advanced in the world. At the plant, independent component suppliers also have production facilities, manned by their own staff, producing doors, seatbelts etc. All the other suppliers are linked to the production control system and _____ (1) deliveries of parts and materials are made 'just-in-time' to ______ (2) precise schedule.

This is an exercise on articles.

The answer is: (1) nothing (2) a

I filled in the gaps: (1) the (2) the

I think both answers are correct without difference in meaning

If the answer is adopted, many, but not all deliveries are made "just-in-time" to a precise schedule.

If my answer is adopted, all deliveries are made "just-in-time" to the precise schedule. Does "the schedule" refer to every schedule without exception?

Thanks for your help.
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I would have inserted "a" in front of schedule.

..."deliveries are made 'just-in-time' to a precise schedule."

I read it as the schedule being related to the delivery process in total - all deliveries are included in the details of the schedule, as they are required at the time that the components will be needed in the production process.
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I think only when"deliveries " is preceded by "the" , does"deliveries" mean every delivery without exception.
No. You've got it wrong. The use of the does not convey completeness. It does not convey "without exception". It conveys the idea that the deliveries were some specific, already known deliveries that you are referring to. It conveys "previously mentioned deliveries -- you know which ones I mean".

If "a" is the correct answer, can I interpret the sentence as there is only one schedule for the whole plan?
Not really. It conveys the existence of "some schedule or another". We don't know exactly which schedule. We only know that such a schedule exists.
That is, you can interpret it as only one schedule for the whole plan, because that meaning is included, but that somewhat misses the point of why a is used.

CJ
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Comments  
Thanks. I made a typo mistake in my first post. I meant"with difference in meaning"

I am still confused. I think only when"deliveries " is preceded by "the" , does"deliveries" mean every delivery without exception.

If "a" is the correct answer, can I interpret the sentence as there is only one schedule for the whole plan?
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thanks. I realised that the idea of "completeness" is not correct in explaining "the".

I copied the original text. The answer to gap(1) provided by the book is zero article. Therefore "deliveries" can not be interpreted as "deliveries" mentioned before. That is why I understood "deliveries" as part, not all, of the deliveries by "all the other suppliers" are made to a precise schedule.

Now I don't know how to understand (2): a. as (1) hasn't been solved.

Hope to have more of you and everybody's opinions.

The factory was opened in 1996 and is one of the most advanced in the world. At the plant, independent component suppliers also have production facilities, manned by their own staff, producing doors, seatbelts etc. All the other suppliers are linked to the production control system and _____ (1) deliveries of parts and materials are made 'just-in-time' to ______ (2) precise schedule.

This is an exercise on articles.

The answer is: (1) nothing (2) a

I filled in the gaps: (1) the (2) the