Manufacturing (from Latin manu factura, "making by hand") is the use of tools and labor to make things for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale.
Manufacturing takes place under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In free market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation.
Modern manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required for the production and integration of a product's components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.
The manufacturing sector is closely connected with engineering and industrial design. Examples of major manufacturers in the United States include General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, Boeing, Gates Rubber Company and Pfizer. Examples in Europe include Airbus, Daimler, BMW, Fiat, and Michelin Tyre.
On the other hand, most manufacturing may involve significant social and environmental costs. The clean-up costs of hazardous waste, for example, may outweigh the benefits of a product that creates it. Hazardous materials may expose workers to health risks. Developed countries regulate manufacturing activity with labor laws and environmental laws. In the U.S, manufacturers are subject to regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In Europe, pollution taxes to offset environmental costs are another form of regulation on manufacturing activity. Labor Unions and craft guilds have played a historic role negotiation of worker rights and wages. Environment laws and labor protections that are available in developed nations may not be available in the third world. Tort law and product liability impose additional costs on manufacturing.
There has been a considerable amount of research on factors affecting manufacturing growth and performance in modern Britain. Major focuses have been on:
Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and is still one of the most attractive countries in the world for direct foreign industrial investment. However, UK manufacturing firms and industries often significantly lag behind their overseas competitors in terms of productivity and various other key performance measures. Of late, such things as increases in taxation and regulation have also diminished the favourableness of the political-legal environment for British industry generally.
Surveys and analyses of trends and issues in manufacturing and investment around the world focus on such things as:
In addition to general overviews, researchers have examined the features and factors affecting particular key aspects of manufacturing development. They have compared production and investment in a range of Western and non-Western countries and presented case studies of growth and performance in important individual industries and market-economic sectors.