Although it is common knowledge that most consumer goods today are made by machines, it is far less widely known how the machines themselves are manufactured. There are several ways of making equipment, and each of them begins with gathering raw ore and smelting it into usable metal. From there, the metal will often be stamped out into the shape of the tool or piece of equipment being made, and then it is shipped through the famous assembly line technique popularized by Henry Ford. Outsourcing is another popular method of making today's equipment, with various parts being forged and assembled all over the world by specialists.
To begin making equipment of any type, it is necessary to extract the raw materials that will be used in the production process beforehand. This is usually accomplished through smelting, which aims to extract a pure metal from a raw piece of ore. Steel is often the material of choice for most industrial equipment due to its tensile strength and resistance to rust, and it is usually produced using a Bessemer converter.
Equipment may then be forged, most commonly using a drop hammer or a forging press. A drop hammer uses the age-old principle of the hammer and anvil, vertically smashing the hammer onto the workpiece. Forging presses may be either hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic presses, utilizing liquid pressure and a piston, are out of fashion due to their slow rate of work, high manufacturing and operating costs, and massive overall bulk. Although they usually have a smaller capacity than hydraulic presses, mechanical presses which can produce up to 52 strokes per minute are normally favored by most manufacturing industries due to their greater efficiency.
In the assembly line technique of making equipment, each worker focuses on repeating a small, simple task during the production process. Machine parts are placed on a conveyor belt and passed down a line of workers so that by the time they reach the end of the line, the various disparate components have become a finished piece of machine equipment. The assembly line is often highly-favored for making equipment due to its peerless efficiency, achieved through optimal logistics and numerous safety checks. Recently, however, the technique has come under scrutiny due to the risk of repetitive stress injuries and the issue of workers' rights.
Finally, outsourcing is practiced by multi-national companies while making equipment all over the world. Different machine parts of a particular piece of equipment are manufactured in different countries, usually depending on the relative labor and raw material costs between nations. The parts are then shipped to the company’s headquarters, where they are put together to form the finished product. Safety valves for steam turbines, for example, are commonly made in Brazil and China while the rotor blades are usually made in India.