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Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods 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. Such finished goods may be used for manufacturing other, more complex products, such as aircraft, household appliances or automobiles, or sold to wholesalers, who in turn sell them to retailers, who then sell them to end users – the "consumers".

Manufacturing takes turns 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 North America include General Motors Corporation, General Electric, and Pfizer. Examples in Europe include Volkswagen Group, Siemens, and Michelin. Examples in Asia include Toyota, Samsung, and Bridgestone.

History and development

In its earliest form, manufacturing was usually carried out by a single skilled artisan with assistants. Training was by apprenticeship. In much of the pre-industrial world the guild system protected the privileges and trade secrets of urban artisans.

Before the Industrial Revolution, most manufacturing occurred in rural areas, where household-based manufacturing served as a supplemental subsistence strategy to agriculture (and continues to do so in places). Entrepreneurs organized a number of manufacturing households into a single enterprise through the putting-out system. Toil manufacturing is an arrangement whereby a first firm with specialized equipment processes raw materials or semi-finished goods for a second firm.

Manufacturing systems: The changing methods of manufacturing

• Craft or Guild system
• Putting-out system
• English system of manufacturing
• American system of manufacturing
• Soviet collectivism in manufacturing
• Mass production
• Just In Time manufacturing
• Lean manufacturing
• Flexible manufacturing
• Mass customization
• Agile manufacturing
• Rapid manufacturing
• Prefabrication
• Packaging and labeling
• Ownership
• Fabrication
• Publication

Economics of manufacturing

According to some economists, manufacturing is a wealth-producing sector of an economy, whereas a service sector tends to be wealth-consuming. Emerging technologies have provided some new growth in advanced manufacturing employment opportunities in the Manufacturing Belt in the United States. Manufacturing provides important material support for national infrastructure and for national defense.

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 in the 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. Manufacturing requires huge amounts of fossil fuels. The construction of a single car in the United States requires, on average, at least 20 barrels of oil.

Manufacturing and investment around the world

Surveys and analyses of trends and issues in manufacturing and investment around the world focus on such things as:

 • the nature and sources of the considerable variations that occur cross-nationally in levels of manufacturing and wider industrial-economic growth;

• competitiveness; and

• attractiveness to foreign direct investors.

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.

On June 26, 2009, Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, called for the United States to increase its manufacturing base employment to 20% of the workforce, commenting that the U.S. has outsourced too much in some areas and can no longer rely on the financial sector and consumer spending to drive demand. A total of 3.2 million – one in six U.S. manufacturing jobs – have disappeared between 2000 and 2007.

Consumer electronics

A typical consumer electronics device is a camcorder.  Consumer electronics include electronic equipment intended for everyday use. Consumer electronics are most often used in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products include personal computers, telephones, MP3 players, audio equipment, televisions, calculators, GPS automotive electronics, digital cameras and players and recorders using video media such as DVDs, VCRs or camcorders. At the turn of the 21st century, the global consumer electronics industry is mainly dominated by Japanese, South Korean, and American companies. Increasingly, these products have become based on digital technologies, and have largely merged with the computer industry in what is increasingly referred to as the consumerization of information technology.

The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) estimates 2007 US Consumer Electronics sales at 150 billion dollars.  Consumer electronics are manufactured throughout the world, although there is a particularly high concentration of research and development activity in Japan, South Korea and California. The latest consumer electronics are previewed yearly at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, at which many industry pioneers speak.


One overriding characteristic of consumer electronic products is the trend of ever-falling prices. This is driven by gains in manufacturing efficiency and automation, lower labor costs as manufacturing has moved to lower-wage countries, and improvements in semiconductor design. Semiconductor components benefit from Moore's Law, an observed principle which states that, for a given price, semiconductor functionality doubles every two years.

While consumer electronics continues in its trend of convergence, combining elements of many consumer electronic items, the consumer faces different decisions when purchasing their items. There is an ever increasing need to keep the product information updated and most comparable, for the consumer to be able to make an informed buying decision. Style, price, specification and performance are all relevant. There is a gradual shift towards e-commerce web-storefronts.

A recent trend in many types of consumer electronics is connectivity. It's usual for many products to include Internet connectivity using technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Ethernet. Many products not traditionally associated with computer use (such as TVs or Hi-Fi equipment) now provide options to connect to the Internet or to a computer using a home network to provide access to digital content. The desire to connect CE products capable of displaying High definition (HD) content has led the industry to develop a number of technologies, such as WirelessHD or ITU-T G.hn, which are optimized for distribution of HD content between CE devices in a home.

Environmental impact

Many consumer electronics have planned obsolescence resulting in the generation of
e-waste. It is estimated that during 2003 the US alone generated over 2.8 million tons of electronic waste.

Standby power used by consumer electronics and appliance while they are turned off accounts for 5 to 10% of household energy consumption, adding an estimated $3 billion to annual energy costs in the USA. "In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off."

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