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A factory is a large industrial building where goods or products are manufactured. Most factories are large warehouse-like facilities which contain heavy equipment used for assembly line-type production. Factories are often protected by security guards.

History of the Factory

The World's first factory was the Venice Arsenal in Venice, Italy, where, several hundred years before the Industrial Revolution, ships were mass produced using pre-manufactured parts, and assembly lines. The Venice Arsenal apparently produced nearly one ship every day and, at its height, employed 16,000 people.

Apart fom that, Matthew Boulton's Soho Manufactory in Birmingham is widley regarded as the first modern factory.

In more recent times, factories were built in the late 18th century in British colonies and were simply buildings where large number of workers gathered to perform hand labor, usually in textile production. This was more efficient for administration and distribution of raw materials to individual workers.

Inventions like the steam engine and the powered loom gradually led to the development of the industrial factory of the 19th century, where precision machine tools and replaceable parts allowed greater efficiency and less waste.

Henry Ford further revolutionized the factory concept in the early 20th century, with the innovation of mass production. A product such as an automobile was built by highly specialized workers situated alongside a series of rolling ramps. This concept dramatically decreased production costs for virtually all manufactured goods and brought about the age of consumerism.

In the mid- to late 20th century Japan introduced next-generation factories with two improvements. The first was advanced statistical methods of quality control, pioneered by the American mathematician William Edwards Deming, who was ignored in his home country. This technique placed Japanese factories as world leaders in terms of cost effectiveness and production quality. Second, the Japanese introduced industrial robots to the factory floor, in the late 1970s. These were computer-controlled welding arms and grippers that could perform simple tasks like fastening on a car door quickly and flawlessly 24 hours a day. This was yet another boon to cost and speed.

Some speculation as to the future of the factory includes rapid prototyping, nanotechnology, and orbital zero gravity facilities.

See also