All economic activities like primary, secondary, tertiary and quarternary have a common goal of obtaining and using resources essential for survival. The raw material is converted to valuable materials with the help of secondary activities. Jute plant has limited use until the jute is not extracted from it, but after it is transformed into jute, it becomes more valuable and can be utilised for making clothes. Similarly, bauxite ore cannot be used; directly from mines, but after being converted into aluminium, it gets its value and can be used for making many other valuable machines, tools, etc. Similarly, most of the material that comes from farms, mines and forests is usable after transformation into something more valuable. Therefore, secondary activities involve manufacturing, processing and infrastructure (construction) industries.
Manufacturing includes a collection of products from handicrafts to moulding steel and iron and the making of plastic toys to assembling delicate mobile phone components or space vehicles.
In each of these processes, the common features are:
- the utilisation of power
- mass production of identical products
- specialised labour in factory settings for the production of standardised commodities
Manufacturing can be done with modern high technology machines, or it can be primaeval. Many third world countries still ‘manufacture’ in the true sense of the expression. It is hard to show a full picture of all producers in these countries. More stress is given to the kind of ‘industrial’ exercise which involves less complex systems of production.
Characteristics of modern large scale manufacturing
- The specialisation of skills or methods of production
Some factories use ‘craft method’ in which focus is only on producing a few pieces which are made to order. The cost of these products is high. On the other hand, when there is mass production of large quantities, each worker gets involved in only the production of standardised parts and do only one task repeatedly.
It refers to the usage of gadgets for accomplishing tasks. Automation (manufacturing process in which task is accomplished without the involvement of human thinking) is the advanced stage of mechanisation.
Automatic factories with closed-loop computer control systems and feedback systems use machines which do all the thinking for them. These kind of industries are spreading all over the world.
- Technical Innovation
Technical innovations through research and development programme are an important aspect of modern manufacturing for eliminating waste and inefficiency; quality control and combating pollution.
- Stratification and Organisational Structure
Modern manufacturing features
- A complex machine technology
- Advanced specialisation and segmentation of labour for producing more goods with less effort, and low costs
- Vast capital
- Large organisations
- Executive bureaucracy
- Uneven Geographic Distribution
Major clusters of modern manufacturing have flourished in a few numbers of places. These cover less than ten per cent of the world’s land area. These countries have become hubs of economic power and political power. The UK is one of those nations. However, in terms of the total area incorporated, manufacturing sites are much less prominent and focused on much fewer areas than that of agriculture due to the greater intensity of processes.
For example – around 2.5 sq km of the American corn belt normally covers about four large farms engaging about 10-20 workers supporting 50 – 100 persons. But this very area could accommodate several large integrated factories and engage thousands of workers.
Why do large scale industries select different locations?
Industries increase profits by minimizing costs. Therefore, industries should be situated at points where the cost of production is minimum.
Some of the factors affecting industrial location
- Access to market – The presence of a market for manufactured products is the most important factor in the location of the industries. ‘Market’ means people who have the purchasing power to be able to purchase from sellers at a place. Remote areas inhabited by few people offer small markets.
The developed regions of Europe, Japan, North America and Australia present large global markets as the purchasing capability of the people is very high. The densely populated countries of South and South-east Asia also accommodate large markets. Some industries, such as aircraft production, have a global market. The arms industry also has global markets.
- Access to Raw Material – Raw material used by industries should be cheap and easy to transport. Industries based on cheap, bulky and weight losing element (ores) are placed close to the sources of raw material such as cement, sugar, and steel industries. Perishability is an essential factor for the industry to be positioned closer to the source of raw material. Agro-processing and dairy products are prepared close to the sources of farm produce or milk supply respectively.
- Access to Labour Supply – Labour supply is a vital determinant in the location of industries. Some types of manufacturing still demand skilled labour. Increasing mechanization, the flexibility of industrial processes and automation have reduced the reliance of industry upon the labours.
- Access to Transportation and communication facilities – Rapid and economical transport facilities to transport raw materials to the factory and to transfer finished goods to the market is necessary for the growth of industries. The expense of transport performs an essential role in the position of industrial units.
Western Europe and eastern North America have a highly advanced transport system which has always influenced the convergence of industries in these areas. The modernized industry is inseparably attached to transportation systems. Advancements in transportation led to mixed economic development and local specialisation of production.
Communication is also a critical requirement for industries for the transfer and administration of information.
- Government policy
Governments assume ‘regional policies’ to support ‘balanced’ economic development and therefore set up industries in particular areas.
- Access to Agglomeration economies or links between industries
Many industries benefit from nearness to leading industry and other industries. These advantages are termed as agglomeration economies. Profits are obtained from the linkages which exist among different industries.