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What is the Manufacturing Industry?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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The term manufacturing industry refers to any business that uses machines, tools, and labor to convert raw materials into saleable goods. The manufacturing sector encompasses a wide variety of job types, from manual labor that utilizes manpower to high-tech production that harnesses the latest in technology. This industry makes up a sizable portion of the industrial production sector in developed nations.

There are several businesses that fall under the umbrella term of "manufacturing industry." These include the construction industry, the engineering industry, the energy industry, the metal and plastics industries, and the transportation industry. The telecommunications and electronics industries are also considered a part of this industry.

Before the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the manufacturing industry was mainly comprised of individuals skilled in the production of certain products. Knowledge of the craft was gleaned through apprenticeship, where a worker learned the finer points of the trade from an established artisan. In more urban areas, guilds were established to safeguard the secrets and inner workings of the production process and to ensure the livelihood of the individual craftsmen.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Industrial Revolution took hold after the radical advancement of technology and increased consumer demand. The manufacturing industry was one of the most strongly effected sectors during this period. As sweeping progress in production style and public need gripped society, the Industrial Revolution spread from Great Britain to the rest of Europe, the United States, and, ultimately, to the rest of the globe.

As industrial design flourished and continued to advance with the creation of more and more cutting-edge technology, manufacturing companies became the main source of wealth in developed countries. The manufacturing industry has since become part of the bedrock of modern economies around the world, providing jobs, goods, and financial security to the public. The industry has also positioned itself to be at the forefront of the latest technological developments that can aid in creating products at a faster rate.

The manufacturing industry is not without its fair share of concerns, however. Certain sectors within the industry have put financial gain before public welfare, resulting in environmental danger and threats to workers' rights and safety. These concerns have reached such epidemic proportions that environmental watchdog groups, government legislation, and labor unions have had to monitor the safe, fair management of many areas of the industry. Due to these problems, many businesses within the manufacturing industry must deal with the reality that conducting their business-as-usual operations could actually outweigh the benefits produced by the business.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Jun 04, 2014

@Melonlity -- that is all true and there are sites on the Internet dedicated to letting consumers know which companies are making products in the United States. Such sites are gaining in popularity and that means they are being used. It's hard to say a trend has developed, but it is encouraging to see some companies marketing the fact they sell products made by American labor.

One thing that is ironic is we've seen a number of foreign-owned auto companies, power tool makers and even some computer makers set up shop in the United States so they can save on shipping costs and tout the fact they are employing Americans.

Some argue that buying from one of those companies is somehow not as good as purchasing items from American-owned companies, but that's not the point. We in the United States should all be glad to see well paying jobs for Americans regardless of the nationalities of the companies that provide them.

By Melonlity — On Jun 03, 2014

@Soulfox -- ah, fear not. There has been a renewed interest in keeping American manufacturers operating in the United States. We have seen everything from tax incentives to aggressive campaign encouraging people to "buy American" when shopping for goods.

The reality is we are in a multinational economy and have been since at least the early 1980s. American companies will have to learn to adapt, and we have seen some indication that is happening.

By Soulfox — On Jun 02, 2014

What is the manufacturing industry? Something that is dying in the United States due to inexpensive, overseas labor. That is a shame, too, as it's hard to provide jobs when the nation is losing so many of them in the manufacturing sector.

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