A good starting point in a chapter with this title is to ask what exactly is meant by the term ‘manufacturing’. In essence, the manufacturing process is the means by which materials are converted into goods. We could therefore also define the manufacturing process as one in which value is added to materials as they pass through the process. The absolute measure of this added value is, of course, determined by what the customer is willing to pay for the final product. The chosen manufacturing process and its detailed application will determine the actual cost of adding the value. Obviously, this must be such that the manufactured cost (material cost + cost of adding value) is less than that paid by the customer by a sufficient amount for the company to thrive. Does this lead to a definition of the manufacturing process as one in which materials are converted into goods in the cheapest possible way? Well, almost. There is a danger with this view that there is an incentive to deliver shoddy, unreliable goods, albeit at a low manufacturing cost, to the customer, who will then turn elsewhere for his supplies. The process must be capable of converting materials into goods in such a way that the needs of both the producing organisation and the consumer are satisfied on a continuing basis. (See the definition of the Design Process in Chapter 5.) This chapter will start with some material considerations and then introduce the general types of process available.
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