Manufacturing & Production
Goods for the World
In the minds of many people, manufacturing and industry are the same. Manufacturing is the process of turning raw materials and part-manufactured products into finished or semi-finished products. Many factories have been set up based on a subcomponent which was then incorporated into a larger unit. Food processing companies and chemical manufacturers regularly supplies partly processed ingredients in bulk for use by other factories. Chains of factories operate within large manufacturing conglomerates providing other factories in the group.
With global marketing, manufactured goods supply chains are often spread across the world, taking advantage of low labour costs in developing countries like China and India. Volatile shifts in cost can cause long-established manufacturing units to close down, throwing thousands out of work.
In the early years of the Industrial Revolution this sophisticated global approach to manufacturing was unknown. Operating a large factory was a risky business and in the UK depended on personal wealth until the evolution of the joint-stock company. Successive British Whig governments in the eighteenth century maintained tight control over imports and exports to benefit the wealthy merchants and traders and restrict the access of other countries to colonial markets like North America.
Adam Smith the economist showed in 1779 that this system was flawed and it was eventually dismantled, giving way to free market conditions. British manufacturing benefited enormously and became highly competitive with falling costs and rising economies of scale. During the 1820īs and 1830īs other European countries like France and Germany were forced to protect their own growing industries from cheap British imports.
In the nineteenth century production, invention and innovation worked hand in hand, leading to British dominance of manufacturing markets for low price goods such as cottons. But other countries began to specialise in higher end products and saddled with a progressively ageing infrastructure, British industry eventually found it necessary to do the same.
Many of eastern Englandīs principal manufacturing businesses were specialists in areas such as radio engineering and diesel engines. However, commodity producers such as brewers and maltsters continued to employ large numbers of people until well into the twentieth century.