Modern society depends on manufacturing. While this word is familiar, if you are just entering the industry or starting to have direct dealings with it, a clear understanding of all this field encompasses is important. In its simplest context, manufacturing refers to the process of turning raw materials into finished products. This term can refer to crocheting a sweater, building a doghouse, or creating precision parts for the robotics industry.
The industrial manufacturing sector is a focused field that operates with meticulous care to create finished items that perform accurate tasks. Production methods vary and include using tools, chemicals, biological materials, and labor.
Strategies for Production
There are multiple approaches to manufacturing. The type or types used depend largely upon the raw materials involved and expectations for the final products. Specialized machines and tools are commonly used to manufacture finished goods, including other particular tools and parts, through processes such as CNC turning. Sometimes manufacturing operations use more volatile methods. Chemical engineers specialize in using chemicals and biological materials safely during manufacturing.
Perhaps one of the oldest methods of creating final goods is through labor of both humans and animals. Examples of this are seen throughout history—turning wheels to perform repetitive tasks such as grinding grains to make flour; assembly lines with dedicated stations; and food preparation.
Until the 18th century, manufacturing was largely an individualized process, carried out by a single person, such as an artisan weaving, sewing, or making pots. That all changed when Britain began using the factory system on a large scale during the late 1700s. This was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the concept and practice of industrialized manufacturing spread around the planet.
Modern manufacturing is made up of numerous stages, including assembly, finishing or painting, testing, and packaging, which itself involves a separate manufacturing process. This complex sector must run on a tight schedule to ensure supply can meet consumer demand. The concept of manufacturing may seem simple, but overall operations require attention, knowledge, and understanding.