I’ve always been fascinated by factories. The automation, the assembly, the highly specialized single-purpose machines, the absolute precision. Discovering how things are put together is a great way to learn about how things work.
I’ve long been a fan of the How Stuff Works website, but recently I stumbled upon the How It’s Made TV show on the Science Channel.
How It’s Made is simply narrated, sparsely produced, and puts the spotlight on the factory process. Each episode usually focuses on about four different items. So far I’ve seen segments on tape measures, book binding, steel wool, umbrellas, cotton yarn, padlocks, violins, self-inking stamps, and synthetic leather. It’s fascinating stuff. I especially love when they break down lightning fast mechanical processes in slow motion.
If you get the Science Channel (it’s in the 200s on my Comcast cable service), check out How It’s Made. You’ll learn a lot and have a new found respect for those every day items you take for granted.
Humberto Oliveiraon 19 Nov 07
I’m also fascinated about the way things are done, I’ve even worked on a pharmaceutical factory for some time during an internship program.
I’ve seen one segment about the productions of aluminum cans, and got very fascinated by the fact that the machine could produce hundreds of thousand units per hour!
Eric G.on 19 Nov 07
I share your fascination! I can watch anything being made in a factory and be mesmerized.
‘How It’s Made’ is a great show.
Oddest thing I’ve seen so far: carbon-fiber cellos!! :)
Adamon 19 Nov 07
Half hours never go by so fast.
Ericson Smithon 19 Nov 07
Something that is really impressive about the factory process, is the programming (both digital AND mechanical) that has to happen for a complex piece of machinery to turn out a single can.
Imagine the timing involved, the planning done so that a lengthy assembly line is in sync and remains in sync.
It sort of put our standard day-to-day software development processes in stark contrast :-)
I feel humbled when i see on of those machines in slow motion doing its thing.
David William Edwardson 19 Nov 07
I believe they’ve even done one on producing game software.
Danielon 19 Nov 07
This show is also available on The Discovery Channel, which I think far more viewers have, even on basic cable.
It’s usually on for a solid hour – an episode at 6 and 6:30 pm nearly every week night, I think.
Chad Crowellon 19 Nov 07
Agreed! Been Tivo’ing it for about 6 months. There’s also one on one of the other discovery channels (or a similar one) called How It Works in a similar vein.
Now that’s some good reality TV!
Serheion 19 Nov 07
But the puns! The horrible, gouge-your-eyes-out puns!
Peter Quinseyon 19 Nov 07
The most jaw-dropping feature I’ve ever seen on the show was not a manufacturing process per se, but was an inside look at the mail processing and sorting plant. The number of small innovations built into the system add up to a surprisingly automated process: your letter carrier could be the first human being to handle the letter since the person who posted it.
Although it’s possible that Canadian internal security protocols prevented that episode from being exported to you guys. :)
PyramidViewon 19 Nov 07
I too enjoy How It’s Made. It’s the grown-up version of Mr. Rogers’ visits to the crayon and applesauce factories.
Devinon 19 Nov 07
“How it’s made” is a Canadian production, mostly filmed in factories in Quebec
Hamish Mon 19 Nov 07
Best show ever. Really. Beats the crap out of all those lame “reality”shows. The only thing I don’t like about it is when it ends.
And yeah, as mentioned, it’s available on Discovery as well.
More info here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_It’s_Made
Samuel Cotterallon 19 Nov 07
We have it in England too, only with a voice-over guy that makes it sound like one of those bad videos geography teachers used to show.
Some of the stuff you just wouldn’t consider.
Neilon 19 Nov 07
My Dad managed to get me a personal tour of the Aston Martin factory (it’s actually the last thing I posted about), and you wouldn’t believe the intricacies involved in building a 007 standard sports car. After spending a year sat solidly in front of a MacBook Pro, it really opened my eyes.
We think the Web is a flexible medium – the guy who walked us round was responsible for the construction of the facility and the layout of machinery, part flows and processes, etc before the building had walls! And he had to take into account the resources required for an unannounced model (the DBS)!
And yes – I did ask about their collaboration software – a little bit of Project, and the rest is email.
Mike Rundleon 19 Nov 07
Such a great show, it’s only one of three shows that I record with my DVR, the others being Modern Marvels and Family Guy. I especially liked the recent episode on yacht wheels, I just can’t believe how much time and effort goes into some stuff.
It’s also a great look at how everyday things really are made or handled by people in the manufacturing process. For awhile I thought everything was just “made by machine” but so many things are still done by hand.
Beggion 19 Nov 07
It’s also available on iTunes
Mike Gowenon 19 Nov 07
That show always reminds me of the educational filmstrips we’d watch in elementary school. Hypnotic almost.
And have you paid attention to the music? It can be pretty insane at times…like a bad acid trip :)
Great show though, I watch it frequently.
Markon 19 Nov 07
Yeh, my channel surfing most always stops on “How it’s Made”, another great show is “Extreme Engineering”—I find it inspirational in that “make no small plans” kind of way.
Although it was neither show, the Discovery Channel (I think) aired a behind the scenes of Ferrari, walking the viewer through the entire process of production. Now that was some fascinating factory reality.
Kareem Sultanon 20 Nov 07
I’ve been watching that show on the Discovery Channel here in Canada for years. Keep an eye out for the one about baby chicks for sale to farms. Absolutely hilarious.
David R. Spottson 20 Nov 07
I love those shows but my wife goes into orbit when I get stuck on Science Channel.
Colin Bartletton 20 Nov 07
The show has fascinating content. But the production value is pathetic. The narrator puts me to sleep every time. I usually through this up on Tivo before bed and I’m out in minutes. Love the content, just wish they spent more then $100 per episode to make it.
coldclimateon 20 Nov 07
Can I suggest looking up an old UK TV program called Secret Life Of Machines, by Tim Hunkin. The explainations about how simple things like sewing machines, car engines, heating systems and washing machines are just brilliant. Now available to download for free in various formats, there are links from makezine.com/blog/
Shanahanon 20 Nov 07
Great show. Great for my kids too, they find it mesmerizing, especially the episode where they made ice cream cake. Have you seen it in Hi-Def? There’s another great show on HD only, How the Best is Done. Made me want to go out and drop a few hundred on 50 year old bourbon.
Wardon 21 Nov 07
“And have you paid attention to the music? It can be pretty insane at times…like a bad acid trip :)” – Mike Gowen
Totally – The music is the best part – I love it. So trippy and synthed out.
Justinon 21 Nov 07
My wife and I discovered that show when leaving the Science Channel on after Survivorman (another great one). We love it.
svc0043on 22 Nov 07
What is the name of the narrator on science channel’s How it’s made? Thanks.
viorel iftimion 24 Nov 07
i need few “how it`s made” free download as examples for mi management courses
This discussion is closed.