What is manufacturing? Definition and examples

Manufacturing is the process or business of producing goods in large numbers in factories. Manufacturing commonly employs a human-machine setup with division of labor. It is the process of converting parts, components, and raw materials into finished products. The finished goods meet consumers’ specifications or expectations.

A company that converts raw materials into finished products is a manufacturer. We can also use the term ‘manufacturer’ for a person if he or she owns a factory or is one of their executives.

The verb ‘to manufacture‘ means to make something using machinery on a large scale.

National GearRepair.com, which specializes in gearbox repair, has the following definition of the term:

“Manufacturing refers to the creation of goods by hand or machine – the finished goods are sold to a customer. Manufacturers use raw materials or various components of a larger product.”

“Typically, the manufacturing process involves skilled labor and a large-scale production line.”

A wide range of human activities

The word comes from the Latin ablative of ‘Manu,’ which means ‘hand,’ + ‘Factura,’ which means ‘a working,’ from the past participle stem of the Latin word ‘Facere,’ meaning ‘to perform.’ 

The term may refer to a wide range of activities, from handicraft to high tech.

However, most people use it when talking about industrial production. Specifically, when the manufacturer transforms raw materials into finished goods on a large scale. In this context, the word ‘goods‘ refers to ‘products.’

Manufacturing - automation
Robots are progressively taking over the manufacturing duties of humans. Automation is great for profits and productivity. However, there is concern that by the middle of this century, most people might not have a job.

Manufacturing engineering

Manufacturing engineering or manufacturing process are the steps through which raw materials are converted into finished goods.

The process starts off with the product design as well as materials specification from which the good is made. The manufacturer then modifies these materials through manufacturing processes until they become the required part.

According to Wikipedia:

“Modern manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required in the production and integration of a product’s components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.”

Famous manufacturers

North America’s most famous manufacturers are General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Boeing, and General Motors Corporation.

Europe’s most famous manufacturers include Siemens, FCA, Michelin, Volkswagen Group, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, and Rio Tinto.

In Asia, the largest manufacturers are Toyota Group, Samsung Electronics, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Honda, SAIC Motor, and Tata Motors.


James Dyson, a British investor, industrial design engineer, and founder of the Dyson company, once said: “Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.”

Tim Cook, an American business executive and industrial engineer who is CEO of Applic Inc., once said: “The right focus for the U.S. is on advanced manufacturing – something that requires innovation.”