Manufacturing History

james wattOne could say manufacturing began about 7,000 years ago when ancient humans started producing various articles made of stone, wood, ceramics and metal.

From these simple beginnings, manufacturing has progressed over the millenniums into the automated factories we see today.

Before high-quality, mass production in the modern factories we see today could become reality, countless inventions, both great and small, were necessary. One of the most important was the the steam engine invented by James Watt in 1769. It was far more practical and efficient than any other steam engine previously produced. For the first time, people had a reliable, efficient source of power other than water.

As Watt’s steam engine began to be used for textile manufacturing and other purposes, it moved industry away from water sources towards population centers and was highly instrumental in creating the modern factory system. This in turn helped bring about the industrial revolution.

cotginWith the invention of interchangeable parts, Eli Whitney added another indispensable component to modern manufacturing.

In 1801, he went to Washington and demonstrated to an astonished audience how standardized parts could be exchanged between muskets. With interchangeable parts, manufacturing was transformed from a usually slow, expensive process of very experienced craftsmen to something that could be done in factories by relatively unskilled labor.

Factories could now manufacture much cheaper goods in larger quantities.

Henry Ford built on the idea of interchangeable parts to create the moving factory assembly line. Factory workers could now spend much less time moving about, and the pace of manufacturing could have a continuous flow.

Ford also broke the manufacturing process down so each worker had a specific job rather than working on the whole car. These processes revolutionized factory production and made possible the cheap, efficient manufacturing that supplies us with the products we need today.

henry fordModern Manufacturing

As the world changes, so does manufacturing. Ideas like “lean manufacturing,” developed primarily by Toyota Motors, continue to change how modern factories manufacture products. After World War II, the Japanese significantly lagged the U.S. in manufacturing. Therefore, they looked for a manufacturing edge to compete with the dominant American factories of the day. Lean manufacturing was a way to reduce waste and increase efficiency in their factories.

The principle behind lean manufacturing is to continuously work to eliminate anything in the manufacturing process that does not add value to the final consumer and improve the manufacturing process. For example, factories and manufacturing are structured to reduce transportation since it wastes time and resources. Organizational changes are made to keep inventories at an absolute minimum to reduce storage costs and increase flexibility.

In the future, these and other new ideas are certain to continue to change factories and manufacturing in ways we never imagined.


What is outsourcing? Outsourcing has traditionally referred to the delegation of a firm’s responsibilities, such as manufacturing and administrative tasks, to an outside third party. In recent years, the definition of outsourcing has expanded, and companies have increasingly utilized entities located overseas to meet their outsourcing needs.
Reasons for outsourcing: Outsourcing enables individuals and companies to delegate repetitive or unfamiliar tasks so they can concentrate on their core business. It also enables them to access labor sources, resources, technology and ideas they would not normally have access to. This process can greatly aid in specialization and efficiency as well as allowing work to be performed in the most cost-efficient manner and at the most suitable location.

For example, high-technology production is concentrated in places like the Silicon Valley where the appropriate people, technology and infrastructure have been established. Likewise, textile manufacturing is concentrated in areas of China where suitable conditions make these areas ideal for textile production.

By allowing individuals, companies and countries to concentrate and specialize on what they do best, outsourcing can be a win-win situation.

The challenges of outsourcing overseas: There are many advantages to outsourcing manufacturing overseas, however, it can also result in various challenges. While a nation may offer the best labor force and resources to produce a particular product, differences in culture, business practices and quality standards create obstacles. At Manufacturing Sourcing, we provide the expertise and resources to ensure a smooth, seamless process when companies outsource the manufacture of their goods. Products are manufactured at efficient, effective factories with excellent quality control. Furthermore, our clients do not encounter language and cultural issues since these are handled by our qualified staff.

Currency fluctuation and outsourcing: Currency fluctuation is another factor in overseas outsourcing. Increases or decreases of a country’s currency will increase or decrease its purchasing power. Since our pricing is almost always set in US dollars or currencies pegged to the US dollar, fluctuations in currency values will not immediately affect those who purchase in US dollars or those whose national currency tracks closely to the US dollar. However, those who do not purchase in US dollars may see the amount they pay fluctuate depending on the value of their country’s currency vs. the US dollar.Outsourcing

Lean manufacturing: Lean manufacturing is a philosophy of production that emphasizes efficiency and strives to eliminate waste from the manufacturing process while improving quality. This is done by continuously looking for ways to reduce inventories and the amount of labor and resources required to produce a product. Lean manufacturing originated in the Toyota Production System and in recent years, the practice of lean manufacturing has spread across the globe. Lean manufacturing principles are utilized in the manufacturing facilities selected by Manufacturing Sourcing to produce your products. Lean manufacturing practices will assist you in obtaining better products at lower prices.

Outsourcing will continue to expand as modern communication and transportation systems shrink the world we live in and business becomes increasingly competitive. Outsourcing will provide your business with additional opportunities to grow and prosper.

How to Compute Customs Tariffs

Please follow the procedure below to obtain an estimate of the tariff on your product if you are importing into the US. This is only a guideline. You will need to contact U.S. Customs to obtain an exact rate. For countries other than the U.S., please check the links at the bottom of this page.

1. You will first need to obtain a tariff number. You may be able to obtain it by going directly to the HTS Schedule in step four below,
but it will probably be easier to first go to the Customs Ruling Online Search System (CROSS) at customs rulings.

2. Go to the keyword search and type in the name of the product for which you would like to obtain a tariff.

3. A ruling number and a tariff number will appear. Click on the tariff number to get a tariff rate (usually from the previous year). If you are not exactly sure which tariff number is correct, use your best judgment. Obtaining an approximate number will be adequate for the next step.

For example, if you are looking for the rate on silk ties, you will get the tariff number 6215.10.0025.

4. Go to HTS Schedule to see the Harmonized Tariff and Schedule (HTS) of the United States by Chapter. Use the tariff number you found in step three to find the current tariff rate (i.e. the first two numbers of the tariff number you obtained in step three correspond to the chapter number you need to click on). Since there is the possibility you did not get the exact number, make sure the description to the right of the number matches the product for which you would like to obtain a tariff.Compute Customs Tariffs

For example, if you are looking for the rate on silk ties, click on Chapter 62 (the chapter number is the same as the first two digits of the tariff number). Following the Heading/Subheading column to 6215.10.0025 will give you the tariff rate of 7.2% for countries with normal MFN status.

Links for customs offices in various countries.
USA: US Customs & Border Protection
Canada: Canada Border Services Agency
EU: The European Union’s TARIC database
United Kingdom: HM Revenue & Customs
Ireland: Tax and Duty Type
Australia: Australian Customs Service
New Zealand: New Zealand Customs Service
Worldwide: World Customs Organizations