What's Up in Factories


Learn about how things are made by studying the concepts of manufacturing. Explore the manufacturing process, history, and how manufacturing has changed over the years.

  • What is Manufacturing? | What's Up in Factories?

    Manufacturing is the transformation of raw materials into usable products. Manufacture is derived from the Latin words “manu” and “factus,” meaning “made by hand.” Most objects that people use every day are the result of manufacturing. In this video, we learn about the origin of the word manufacture and what goes into the manufacture of a product. A ballpoint pen is disassembled to illustrate its many components, how those parts contribute to the function or the look of the product, and the materials used to make them. This video explores manufacturing as an integral part of our lives and asks pertinent questions: How does manufacturing affect us? Can you find anything around you that hasn't been manufactured?

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Manufacturing Process | What's Up in Factories?

    The manufacturing process involves taking raw materials through a variety of steps to produce a finished product. Having an efficient manufacturing process greatly affects the cost of the product to the consumer. The steps of the manufacturing process are demonstrated in a factory setting, Alabama’s Sloss Furnaces. We see the raw material (iron ore) converted to a standard stock (steel) through a chemical process (heating) to refine the product. The product is then turned into an industrial product through a casting and molding process which consists of pouring or forcing a liquid material into a mold, where it hardens. We learn how the customer benefits from the increased efficiency in the manufacturing process.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The History of Manufacturing | What's Up in Factories?

    The rise of the factory system and mass production revolutionized manufacturing. Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, and Kiichiro Toyoda devised efficiency processes that made manufacturing what it is today. In this video, we see historic illustrations and photographs depicting what “manufacturing” looked like before the 19th century, when everything was made by skilled individuals and artisans. We learn about the events that changed manufacturing and the contributions to manufacturing by Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, and Kiichiro Toyoda.

    Grades: 5-9
  • New Trends in Manufacturing | What's Up in Factories?

    New trends in manufacturing include processes such as built-in quality, kaizen and kanban as part of the innovative concept of lean production conceived by Japanese automotive manufacturers. In this video these new manufacturing trends are demonstrated in the Honda Manufacturing Plant of Alabama. We learn how mass production is a “push” system and lean production is a “pull” system. Honda associates discuss processes similar to kanban and kaizen and how they improve efficiency, product quality, and result in a happier workforce.

    Grades: 5-9

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Producer: THIRTEEN