The Difference between Production & Manufacturing

by Neil Kokemuller ; Updated September 26, 2017

Production and manufacturing are similar in that both relate to the development of goods for sale. The distinction is subtle at times, but manufacturing is the process of creating goods from raw materials, and production is the level of output that results. Another distinction is that you can produce a good without a complete manufacturing process.

Process versus Output

Manufacturing is the process of converting raw materials into finished parts, components or whole goods. It typically includes the use of both equipment and manpower, and development activities are normally conducted inside a facility or plant. Manufacturing often takes place through a sequential process. In an assembly line, for instance, workers or machines add parts or components to a product as it moves from raw form to finished good.

Production centers more on the output created from the manufacturing process, though "production process" is sometimes used in place of the word manufacturing. Lean production is a common strategy used to minimize waste and inefficiency and to optimize production, according to TechTarget. Other goals of efficient production include meeting customer demand and minimizing inventory required to create the targeted amount of goods.


  • Large-scale manufacturing often involves workers and machines engaged in diverse tasks arranged in various locations throughout a plant or facility.

Manufacturing vs. Nonmanufacturing Production

Production, or the creation of a product, is also possible without the use of a full-scale manufacturing process. Handcrafted goods, for instance, are often produced by one person skilled at using supplies and materials to craft a good. Process manufacturing refers more to the facility-based phases of development used to mass-produce items for large target markets, according to TechTarget. Chemicals, foods and pharmaceuticals are among the commodities commonly produced through process manufacturing.

With full mass manufacturing, efficiency is often as important as the quality of the goods produced. With handcrafted or non-mass production, a high-quality or custom good is normally the desired production output.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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