Definition of the Manufacturing Industry

by Alex Kocic; Updated September 26, 2017
English cotton mills were the first modern factories.

Manufacturing industry refers to any business that transforms raw materials into finished or semi-finished goods using machines, tools and labor. Manufacturing sectors include production of food, chemicals, textiles, machines and equipment.

History of Manufacturing

People have always used tools to transform raw materials into products, mostly agricultural ones, but modern manufacturing started in England in the second half of the 18th century. It was the textile industry that first applied water- or steam-powered machines, thus massively increasing the amount of cotton processed in a specific time.

Birth of the Factory

With the introduction of mechanized production of textiles, it became necessary to have the labor force together in a single place of work. These cotton-spinning mills became the first-known factories.

Rise of U.S. Manufacturing

Thanks to the trade embargoes imposed by France and England in the early 19th century, U.S. manufacturing took off, so that the newly independent country could become more self-reliant. In the early days, manufacturing was concentrated mostly in the Northeast. After a dozen decades of growth, manufacturing so far has been largely in decline during the 21st century.


About the Author

Alex Kocic has been a journalist since 1985, starting at a local radio station in Pancevo, Serbia, before moving to BBC World Service in London. He has freelanced for BBC Radio 4 and 5Live, and a number of Serbian media outlets, including B92, "Vreme," "E-Magazin" and "Travel Magazine." Kocic has a Master of Arts in international relations from the University of Staffordshire.

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