How Do Factories Work? A Quick Look into the Industry

Factories utilize a method called the factory system. It’s a manufacturing approach that utilizes the division of labor and machinery. Usually, wealthy people privately own factories. Then, they will hire operative labor to operate their factories.

The factory system started during the Industrial Revolution. It was a new method of creating products. The factory system utilizes a centralized workplace, unskilled employees, division of labor, and powered machinery to mass-produce items.


Manufacturing of products started leaving households due to the rise of factories. The workers’ experience drastically changed since they are disciplined and coordinated in a factory. However, not every early factory took a similar method to handle labor.

What Happened Before Factories Exist?

Before industrialization and urbanization, almost every product was manufactured using a system known as the cottage industry. In this system, peasant families manufacture more goods than they require to utilize themselves and sell the remaining products to others.

In several locations, this evolved into a form of proto industrialization when business people offered raw materials and paid peasants for their labor to manufacture them into finished products. An entrepreneur may offer a single peasant with wool to transform into a yarn. Then, he will offer the yarn to another peasant to transform it into cloth.

Before the industrial revolution, there were also a couple of centralized workplaces. On several occasions, these were used since production was too big to be finished in a tiny shop or house. Also, some will require unique energy sources such as waterpower or furnaces.

Some examples include early paper mills, breweries, glassworks, hammer forges, and fulling mills. Industries established proto factories. These relied on traditional hand technology for completely organizational reasons.

Supervisors will supervise directly the production process. They will enforce the division of labor, ensure a quick work pace, and guarantee quality control.

What Makes Up the Factory System?

During the industrial revolution, the factory system introduced several new methods of manufacturing products. Factories can create products in bigger volumes. They can manufacture faster and cheaper.


Factories have a couple of key characteristics. These include:

  • Standardized parts

They will standardize various components of a product. This means that factories have to build a part using the same measurements and the same method. Eventually, this idea led to interchangeable parts where people can easily fix or replace single components. Today, people use RYD short run injection molding to create quality components at a fraction of the cost.

  • Unskilled Workers

Due to the division of labor, a lot of the employees in a factory are unskilled. Factory supervisors will teach the worker a single job and he will repeat that job over and over.

  • Division of Labor

The factory system introduced the division of labor. For those who don’t know, it means that various employees will have a particular task in manufacturing the product. Every employee can specialize in a single task. Workers don’t have to know how to create the whole product.

  • Centralized Workplace

Instead of having workers spread out in their workshops and houses, the factory was a huge central place where a lot of workers work together to create products. Factories were extremely crucial in production since the machines used were large, expensive, required power and more labor.

Organization in Factories

To adapt to new methods of manufacturing, factories have changed the standard organization of their employees.

Early factories had to produce an atmosphere that greatly differs from household production to guarantee low expenses and high output.

A lot of early factories utilized negative/positive incentives, established rules, and direct supervision to motivate employees with inspirational quotes and success stories. Usually, factories had fixed work hours. They expect consistent attendance and punctuality from their employees.


Aside from that, they also require workers to take excellent care of expensive materials and equipment, guarantee uniformity and accuracy in products, and put high effort into their jobs.

Though small factories can achieve these goals via close supervision, bigger factories find it necessary to establish work rules to discipline workers and set expectations. A lot of big factories use deterrents when a worker violates a rule. These deterrents include corporal punishments, fines, and dismissal.

A lot of early factories used two general structures. Oftentimes, factory managers use a form of subcontracting. This is particularly true if the factory needs a huge amount of skilled labor. They’ll hire machine operators or master craftsmen who will then employ their division workers. These skilled individuals will serve as a guide to reading a pump curve, ensuring machinery operates efficiently and accurately.

Another subcontracting method that factories used was using foreman to manage workers. Usually, a lot of factories prefer this method. This is particularly true if most of their workers are unskilled.

A group of foremen will be the lowest level of the managerial hierarchy. However, they will still have more power compared to the workers they handle. They would often establish rules for paying and promoting workers.

In addition to that, these foremen will also coordinate workflows and determine the expected work pace. Furthermore, they will enforce discipline and try to motivate workers to increase the output of the factory as much as they can.

Factories are also currently imposing strict health protocols such as wearing face masks and social distancing especially in this time of the pandemic.

How Did Factories Change the World?

The factory system had a huge influence on the planet. Before, almost every individual lived in the countryside to manage farms. When the factory system arrived, people started to move to the cities.

Cities grew bigger. Some of them become overcrowded as well. This movement from rural living to city living created a huge shift in how people lived today.


As you can see, factories are quite simple to understand once you know the basics. It consists of workers who work on different tasks to create a single product.


Without factories, people would manufacture products in their homes or workshops.

The factory system is perhaps the most efficient method of creating and manufacturing goods.

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