You can't really go anywhere on the planet without realizing just how much we depend on machines for our existence today. You could look outside and see construction on new real estate or turn on your computer and do a translation on a complete document. In fact, the mode of transportation you are using to go anywhere on the planet is more than likely a type of machine.
It's inevitable to see machinery every hour of every day, but there are literally hundreds of different machines that you will probably never see. These are the machines that drive the manufacturing process, also called factory machines. They are typically huge, fast, and used for the production of most of the items in our households, as well as for producing the parts vital in so many other types of machines. For example, even if you prefer to garden by hand, the Bahco tools you are using were made by machines.
There are, of course, many different types of factory machines, from those that drive conveyor belts and are fairly simple to hugely complicated combinations of mechanics and the latest computer technology, used in production, manufacturing, even in science, finding medical discoveries and producing industrial water treatment chemicals.
As diverse as factory machines are, they generally share a few common qualities, largely related to their function within the factory. Let's take a look.
Speed up production. Without exception, the main purpose of using machines in a factory setting is to allow the production within the factory to go at a faster rate. Machines have the ability to work much faster than human beings, and in a demanding, profit driven world the faster goods can be created the better. An example of this that you've probably encountered is with printing services. You can now get discount postcard printing done in no time. Imagine if there was no photocopier to do all of that and it had to be done my hand. It would take what seemed like forever.
Allow more production. Machines are also able to work at a steady pace, hour after hour. There is no need for a machine to take a coffee break, to work a shift, and they are always at work (they do tend to take sick days, but that's another story). Limitless energy means that factory machines can produce more goods; in turn, this means greater profit and also an increase in availability, generally for the good, as far as the consumer is concerned.
The creation of a safer work environment. While it is true that machines do pose a new set of risks, as far as the factory setting goes, most of the time machines can alleviate risk in other areas. The use of machines eliminates the risk of sleep related work accidents; often machines are used to complete tasks that previously put the health and even lives of workers at risk.
Although you probably will not see even a small percentage of the factory machines, the fact is that they are responsible for virtually every part of your life, from the home you could live in to the car you drive. The clothes you are wearing were likely produced, at the most basic level, by an industrial sewing machine. The chair you are sitting in as you read this was likely assembled on a machine chain at a plant; the computer you used to pull up this page was not only assembled by a factory machine, but every single part in it was likely assembled by a separate set of specialized factory machines. And if you're using online collaboration software to connect to the office, that's another whole set of machines.
Unseen but with a presence that is felt everywhere, factory machines have helped to revolutionize the way we live our lives. We'll take a look at some of the most fascinating factory machines there are and what they accomplish in this section.