Factory System Definition

Factory System Definition, Characteristics and Functions Explained

Factory system is a capitalist socioeconomic concept that maximizes production of goods and services through machine utilization and division of labor. This article discusses factory system definition, characteristics and functions, as outlined below;



-Factory System Definition: 4 Ways to Define Factory Systems

-Characteristics of the Factory System

-Functions of Factory Systems







Factory System Definition: 4 Ways to Define Factory Systems

Factory system is a system or framework of production that aims to produce in large scale by implementing productivity-enhancement strategies like the use of large machinery and multiple workers [3].

The factory system definition given above highlights the most basic attributes of this system of production.

Before the factory system, goods were produced through a system called craft production, domestic production, or cottage production; where a single worker created the products individually, and often according to specific preferences of the end-user.

Craft production was less-profitable and less reliable for large scale production to meet public demand. It depended solely on the skill of the worker involved, and the absence of machinery often created work-related risks.

Another factory system definition is given below, which provides some detail regarding the origin and history of the system;

Factory system is a system of mass production based on capitalist principles, that was invented in Europe in the eighteenth century, in a bid to adopt technologies and organizational structures that boost per capita productivity [2].

The place where factory system implementation was earliest observed is Great Britain [4].

The appeal of the factory system was (and is) its ability to multiply the scale of production while reducing time, cost of labor, and required skill. Below is an alternative factory system definition that highlights its importance and benefits;

Factory system is an approach to production using machines and mass-labor, that was adopted during the industrial revolution as an important tool for optimizing productivity, with benefits that include; increased product supply, large-scale employment, and economic growth.

Factory System Definition: Machines and Mass-Labor as Elements of Factory Systems (Credit: Greg Walters 2006 .CC BY 2.0.)
Factory System Definition: Machines and Mass-Labor as Elements of Factory Systems (Credit: Greg Walters 2006 .CC BY 2.0.)



While the early forms of factory system had sociological flaws like forced labor, child labor and 'extremist capitalism', recent years have seen a modified version of the factory system that employs innovative technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence.

The modern forms of factory system are shifting toward an alignment with sustainable development objectives regarding equality and environmental protection. As a result, it is not uncommon to find discussions of factory system within the context of sustainable manufacturing and circular economy [1].

A final factory system definition is given below that lists some examples of factory systems;

Factory system refers to a system of capitalized mass production using machines and numerous workers, examples of which are; equipment forging factories, breweries, glasswork factories, cotton manufacturing factories, paper mills, automobile factories, and organized construction.






Characteristics of the Factory System

A chief characteristic of the factory system is mass production by the use of machines. In their early stages, factory systems relied on hydro or steam-powered technologies to function, such as the steam turbine.


Characteristics of the factory system are;

1). Machine usage

2). Mass production

3). Time efficiency

4). Large work force

5). Division of labor

6). Capitalism

7). Workplace centralization






Functions of Factory Systems

Functions of factory systems are;

1). Facilitation of economic growth

2). Job creation

3). Technological advancement

4). Strengthening of trans-national economic ties

5). Facilitation of rural-urban migration

6). Reduction of product prices

7). Increase in product availability

8). Diversification of industrial supply chains







A factory system is a framework or strategy for production that utilizes large amounts of labor and machinery, to increase productivity.


Characteristics of the factory system are; machine usage, mass production, time efficiency, large work force, division of labor, capitalism, and workplace centralization.


Functions of factory systems are; facilitation of economic growth, job creation, technological advancement, strengthening of trans-national economic ties, facilitation of rural-urban migration, reduction of product prices, increase in product availability, and diversification of supply chains.


The significance of factory system is based on its ability to boost economic productivity through production upscaling, and job creation.







1). Ethirajan, M.; Kandasamy, J. (2019). "An Analysis on Sustainable Supply Chain for Circular Economy." Procedia Manufacturing 33. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.promfg.2019.04.059. (Accessed 18 March 2023).

2). Jones, S. R. H. (1992). "The emergence of the factory system in 18th century England: Did transportation improvements really matter?" Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 19, Issue 3, December 1992, Pages 389-394. (Accessed 18 March 2023).

3). Kapás, J. (2012). "The Factory: An Historical Theory of the firm View." Institutions and the Industrial Revolution (pp.95-108.). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/294218998_The_Factory_An_Historical_Theory_of_the_firm_View. (Accessed 18 March 2023)..

4). Mohajan, H. K. (2019). "The First Industrial Revolution: Creation of a New Global Human Era." Available at: https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/96644.html. (Accessed 18 March 2023).

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