Manufacturing - Term Overview

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It's understood by manufacturing, manufacture or production to the process that converts a feedstock into one or more products of consumption. To do this, it modifies the characteristics of the initial material through a set of operations involving machinery, energy and labor.

This activity is typically industrial ( secondary economic sector ). It generally operates on a large scale, that is, producing massively.

Goods produced in this way are known as manufactured goods or manufactured goods, and they have added value with respect to the raw material from which they were manufactured. The difference is reflected in their price when they are distributed and marketed in their consumer circuits. This principle is central to the functioning of industrial capitalism.

The term manufacturing comes from Latin ( manus, "hand"; facere, "to do"), and can designate a huge variety of productive items, which operate as a circuit or a system.

Examples of manufacturing industries are both those related to high technology (technology, telecommunications, auto parts) or goods for immediate consumption ( food, beverages, drugs, personal hygiene products ), such as construction materials, toys, sports supplies, textiles and a huge etcetera.

Manufacturing history

In a way, manufacturing has been around since the beginning of mankind, since handicrafts, produced through the manual effort of skilled individuals, have been a common economic activity since at least the Middle Ages.

However, modern manufacturing, understood under today's industrial standards, appeared around 1780, when the Industrial Revolution brought with it the mechanization of production, incorporating machinery (and therefore energy) into the production process.

This new model of industrial production was born in 18th century Britain, but it quickly spread to Europe and the United States, and then to the rest of the world. Its impact on society was immense: it gradually transformed the peasant masses into working- class workers, thus giving rise to the proletariat.

In addition, it stimulated a huge economic migration from agriculture to the cities. It was therefore part of the consequences of the rise of the bourgeoisie as the ruling class.

Consequently, it laid the foundations for the emergence of capitalism, thanks to mass production, in which Fordism had immense importance: a system of rapid and mass production that emerged in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Its name comes from its inventor, Henry Ford (1863-1947).

Manufacturing types

The manufacturing industry is extremely diverse, it can be classified as follows:

Processed products: Those that are ready to be marketed and distributed, whether they are fast-paced or not. For example:

  • PFood industry: It manufactures food, be it beverages,packaged foods, cooking supplies, canned goods, etc.
  • PTextile industry: It manufactures clothing and footwear of all kinds and for all tastes, from pants, shirts, scarves, caps, sneakers, etc.
  • PPharmaceutical industry: It manufactures medicines and drugs, both for the free consumption of the population, and to supply hospitals, clinics and other health centers.
  • PElectronics industry: It manufactures computers, calculators, cell phones, televisions, radios, modems and all kinds of electronic devices, as well as their spare parts and accessories.
  • PAutomovile industry: It manufactures vehicles: cars, motorcycles and other motorized vehicles, as well as their parts and spare parts, often separately. It may or may not include an assembly factory (or it may outsource such a process).
  • PArms industry: It manufactures weapons of diverse nature: pistols, military rifles, civilian revolvers, bombs, missiles and other inventions with which human beings make our wars.

Semi-finished products: On the contrary, they are inputs that aren't definitive or that are part of other subsequent manufacturing processes, that is, they are products to feed other factories that in turn produce manufactured goods. For example:

  • PWood industry: It produces wood, that is, planks, slats, plates and pieces of wood that must later be worked by a furniture industry, a carpenter, or it can be used as pulp for the paper industry.
  • PPaper industry: While paper may well be an elaborate product, such as the one we buy to feed a printer at home, the bulk of industrially produced paper has other purposes: to feed book printers or newspaper and magazine presses, which produce the products. definitive for the consumption of the people.
  • PSteel industry: Using minerals and metals extracted from nature, the steel industry carries out foundries, alloys and other processes of modification of the metal to make it suitable for the work of other industries, such as those that manufacture screws, bolts or washers.

Manufacturing characteristics

The manufacturing process:

  • It consists of modifying the physical and chemical properties of the raw material, in order to obtain more complex, specific goods. For these, their products have greater commercial value.
  • You need raw materials to modify and machinery to do so, as well as labor to operate it and energy to power the process.
  • It's part of the secondary sector of the economy, traditionally considered as the main producer of wealth, compared to other sectors such as the tertiary or services, which is understood as a consumer of wealth.
  • It's closely related to industrial design and engineering.
  • It represents the main economic sector in the so-called First World, in contrast to the extractive or raw material industry in the Third.

Examples of manufactured products

It's not difficult to find examples of manufactured products. Practically everything around us is:

  • The clothes we wear and the shoes we wear.
  • The computer on which we surf the Internet, but also the modem that allows it and the furniture on which both devices rest.
  • The lamps with which we illuminate our house, and the very materials that the latter is made of.
  • The automobiles, their spare parts, the accessories with which we “tune” it or make it more attractive.
  • The books we read, the magazines we buy, the Sunday newspaper, the wallpaper on the walls.
  • The foods packaged or canned soda, food for our pets, the same refrigerator where we keep everything.
  • The TV and its remote control, the cell phone, the calculators.
  • The screws with which we assemble a piece of furniture, and the piece of furniture itself, in most cases.
  • Practically everything that is made of plastic, since this material doesn't exist in nature.

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