Manufacturing is a very broad activity, encompassing many functions – everything from purchasing to quality control! Later, we will concentrate on some of the manufacturing processes used to convert materials into products. But before doing this it is worth touching on some of the wider issues involved with running a successful manufacturing operation.
To consider manufacturing as a whole we clearly have to look beyond specific sets of materials and processes that lead to single products. Viewing manufacturing as a system provides a way of identifying which factors, whether internal or external, are important, and so aid decision making about choosing a particular manufacturing process in a particular situation.
This may sound needlessly complex, but is it? Sometimes the choice of which material and which process to use will not be trivial. Factors such as consumables for the manufacturing equipment, the amount of scrap produced, the speed of the process, the energy required, and so on, all may need to be considered in order to make a sensible decision about the best way of making the final product.