Manufacturers are companies which make things. They can vary from single jewelers fabricating projects by hand to industrial manufacturers which build heavy equipment, and everything between. Many people interact with manufactured products on a daily basis, and worldwide, manufacturers employee millions of people from skilled engineers to assembly line workers. Much of the developed world has a very strong manufacturing sector, as do developing nations which are trying to push their way into the ranks of the industrial world.
A manufacturer can use a variety of processes to create objects. On-demand manufacturing, for example, revolves around the creation of customized objects as they are ordered, while a conventional manufacturing line produces a set amount of a product. A variety of equipment is utilized, including molds, dies, packaging equipment, and assembly equipment which can include advanced robots which put objects together.
Chemicals, food, electronics, industrial equipment, textiles, plastics, telecommunications products, vehicles, and construction equipment, among other things, are produced on manufacturing lines. Companies use a variety of philosophies and approaches to industrial manufacturing, developing a method which is tailored to their needs and the needs of their customers. Some businesspeople even specialize in the optimization of manufacturers, acting as consultants to companies which want to expand, improve efficiency, or address ongoing issues.
The advent of manufacturing occurred in the 1800s, with the development of interchangeable parts which made mass production a reality. As companies began to transition to mass production methods, they also began to develop a variety of approaches to manufacturing, from highly flexible approaches which were designed to accommodate changing supply and demand to more rigid systems, such as Henry Ford's famous manufacturing line which produced Fords “in any color you like, so long as it's black.”
Manufacturers usually have a variety of business relationships. They must work with suppliers to ensure that they have a steady supply of the raw materials they need to make their products, and with governments to confirm that their products are made in accordance with regional safety and labor laws. They also need relationships with distributors who sell their products to retailers and other merchants, and they may have direct connections with customers as well.
Manufacturing facilities include a manufacturing line, where the products are actually made, along with offices, research facilities, and engineering facilities where projects are designed, developed into prototypes, and tested. Most of the products a manufacturing company makes comes from an original blueprint or design created by someone who specializes in designing goods which can be mass produced.