What is Manufacturing?
26. February 2013
There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about manufacturing. As a guy who has worked his entire life in manufacturing, I’d like to eliminate this confusion.
The word “Manufacture” is made up from two Latin Roots “manu” and “factura.” “Manu” means “by hand.” “Factura“ is a derivative of “facere,” which meant “to perform” or “to do.” Factura means ”a working.”
While the linguistic origins of “manufacturing” were “a working, by hand,” the essence was the creation of something by work into something else. In modern terms, it is “the conversion of raw materials into finished goods by labor.”
This was the nurtury of my English vocabulary.
Today, with our abundance of machines and non-human-provided energy, we define manufacturing as “the use of machines, tools and labor to convert raw materials into finished goods.” In North America (for now), manufacturing is denoted officially by NAICS codes numbering from 31-33 according to BLS.
So what is the confusion about manufacturing? There is a move afoot to count the foreign production of Factoryless Goods Producers (FGP’s) as “U.S. Manufacturing.”
If you don’t actually make something, you aren’t really a manufacturer. If you don’t make it here, how can you count it here? You may be a great designer, a great engineer, great logistics company, or great sales company. But if you don’t make whatever it is that you designed, engineer or sell, it ain’t manufacturing.
So when someone tries to tell you they are a “factoryless goods producer,” don’t flinch, don’t blink, don’t bat an eye. And whatever you do, don’t call them a liar. (It’s rude to call people liars, even when they are lying.) Just tell them they are mistaken, they are an outsourcer, not a manufacturer. Manufacturers actually make things and often export their products.
Factoryless goods producers don’t make anything themselves. In some cases, however, outsourcers export our jobs.
Blog post originally from PMPA Speaking of Precision.