Machine Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Machine Building


a group of several sectors of heavy industry that manufacture production tools for the national economy, as well as consumer goods and products for national defense. It is the material basis for the technological development of the entire national economy. Labor productivity, technological progress, the standard of living of the people, and the nation’s defensive capacity are highly dependent on the level of development of machine building. The main purpose of machine building is to provide highly efficient machines and equipment for all branches of the national economy. In the USSR, machine building occupies a special place in the economy of the country, since it has a leading role in extended socialist reproduction. Machine building is the basis of socialist industrialization and has facilitated the transformation of the USSR into a highly developed industrial power.

Machine building is a component of a broader production group, machine building and metalworking, which also includes the manufacture of metal articles and structural members and the repair of machines and equipment. In 1972 metalworking output accounted for 16 percent of the gross output of machine building and metalworking. Machine building in the USSR includes such large subsectors as power machine building; the electrotechnical, machine tool, and tool industries; instrument-making; and tractor and farm machinery production.

USSR. Machine building occupies first place among Soviet industries in terms of total output, amount of fixed productive assets, and number of workers employed. In 1972, machine building and metalworking accounted for about one-quarter of

Table 1. Output of individual machine products in the USSR
1In 1967 the output of automation equipment, devices, and spare parts was 2,370,000,000 rubles in enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1,1955, and 1,631,000,000 rubles in enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1. 1967; output of computer equipment and spare parts was 376,000,000 and 261,000,000 rubles, respectively
Turbines (GW)0.0060.0441.
Generators for turbines (GW)0.0750.50.97.910.613.7
AC electric motors with power of 0.25-100.0 kW (GW)
AC electric motors with power of more than 100 kW (GW)0.0550.
Metalcutting machine tools1,8002,00058,40070,600155,900202,200211,300
with digital and programmed control161,6873,049
Automatic and semiautomatic machine-building and
metalcutting lines (sets)
Forging and molding machines1004,7007,70029,90041,30044,000
Automation equipment, devices, and spare parts
(million rubles)
in enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1, 1955
in enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1, 19672,3702,956
Computer equipment and spare parts1
in enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1, 1955  
in enterprises whole sale prices as of July 1, 1967     7101,213
Metallurgical equipment (tons)23,700111 ,200218,300314,000322,100
Coal-cutting combines223448811,1301,117
Petroleum-extraction equipment (tons)15,50047,90093,000126,600156,900
Power shovels2743,54012,58930,84434,875
Main-line diesel locomotives (sections)51251,3031,4851,488
Main-line electric locomotives9102396323351
Motor vehicles100800145,400362,900523,600916,1001,378,800
trucks and buses790139,900298,300384,800571,900648,700
passenger cars100505,50064,600138,800344,200730,100
Tractors (actual units )1,30031,600116,700238,500458,500477,800
Tractor-mounted plows50038,400121,900149,100211,700223,100
Tractor-mounted seeders60021,400117,700111 ,900163,500144,500
Grain harvesters12,80046,30059,00099,20095,700

the industrial production of the USSR. It had 20.9 percent of the total fixed productive assets of industry and employed about 39 percent of the industrial workers. In 1970 the machine-building industry produced about 30,000 types of products. More than 60 percent of the sector’s output is manufactured on a short-run or long-run production basis; a noncontinuous production process is typical. The large number of machines and types of equipment, their complexity, and the possibility of breaking the items down into individual assemblies and components have led to widespread specialization in manufacturing the products of machine building.

Machine building emerged as a sector of industry in the 18th century; it developed rapidly during the 19th century, at first in Great Britain and in other countries of Western Europe and later in the USA. In Russia the first machine-building plants were erected in the 18th century.

In prerevolutionary Russia, machine building was poorly developed and was dependent on foreign capital because of the general economic backwardness of the country. The output of machines for industry was extremely limited, both in total volume and in the number of individual products. The construction of farm machinery was confined to simple items. Machine production in prerevolutionary Russia was at a lower technical level than that of the countries of Western Europe and the USA. Motor vehicles and metalcutting machines were manufactured in small quantities; spinning looms, tools, instruments, complex farm machines, large power equipment, and many other kinds of machines and equipment were imported.

Under Soviet power a strong machine-building industry has been created. The policy of socialist industrialization and the ever-increasing scale of capital construction created a great need for machines and equipment. During the first five-year plan (1929-32) the average annual growth rate of gross Soviet industrial output was 19.2 percent, but for machine building and metalworking it was 41.3 percent. During the second five-year plan (1933-37) the rates were 17.1 percent and 23.1 percent,

respectively. For the three prewar years of the third five-year plan (1938-40) the rates were 13.2 percent and 20.7 percent, respectively. High rates of development remained characteristic of machine building during the postwar years. The gross output of machine building and metalworking in 1972 exceeded the 1913 level by a factor of 1,040 and the 1940 level by a factor of 35.1. Data on the output of the most important types of machines and equipment in the USSR are given in Table 1.

Machine building made possible the creation of a large industrial production system for all branches of material production and the provision of high defense preparedness of the country. As of the beginning of 1973, 4.08 million metalcutting machine tools and 948,000 forging and molding machines were in use in the national economy of the USSR; tens of thousands of coal combines, cutting-loading machines, conveyors, and electric locomotives were in operation in the coal and ore mining industries; 119,200 power shovels, 33,700 scrapers, 117,500 bulldozers, 135,700 traveling cranes, and a great deal of other technical equipment was in operation in the construction industry; and 2.11 million tractors, 656,000 grain harvesters, 1.23 million trucks (not counting interkolkhoz nonagricultural organizations), 1.22 million tractor-driven seeders, and hundreds of thou-sands of other machines and mechanisms were being used in agriculture. An extremely large quantity of machines and equipment was supplied by the machine-building industry to all branches of industry, transportation, and communications. As of Jan. 1, 1972, the fixed productive assets of the Soviet economy were approximately 500 billion rubles (based on 1955 prices), of which about two-fifths was in machines and equipment.

The accelerated development of machine building and the increasing saturation of the nation’s economy with modern production tools have assured systematic growth of labor productivity. In 1972, labor productivity in industry as a whole exceeded the 1940 level by a factor of about 5.5; in machine building, it exceeded the 1940 level by a factor of more than 12.

Progress in the development of machine building in the USSR is to a great extent associated with the expansion of the sector’s technical base. By the end of 1972 the value of the machines and equipment constituting the technical base of machine building and metalworking was estimated at 23 billion rubles for plants on individual budgets; this was about one-fifth of the value of machines and equipment in all Soviet industries, and most of it was in metalworking equipment.

The equipment used in machine building consists mainly of high-speed machine tools, forging and molding machines, foundry and welding equipment, and hoists and other transportation machines. Among metalworking machines an important position is occupied by modern unitized, special and specialized heavy and precision machine tools of unique construction and by automated production lines. The potential of the technical base of machine building in terms of the production of machines and equipment is extremely great. Many production items made in factories of this sector are unique and were the first to be built (for example, equipment for space exploration).

The USSR is the first in Europe and second in the world in the total output of the machine-building and metalworking industries (as of 1972). The achievements of the machine-building industry in the USSR are particularly important in the area of improvement of production tools for all branches of the national economy and the design and introduction of highly efficient equipment. The power, speed, and precision of equipment have been increased, its performance improved, and the unit weight reduced. From 1966 to 1972 the machine-building industry of the USSR produced about 21,700 new types of machines and 7,500 new kinds of instruments and automatic equipment.

Machine building developed greatly during the ninth five-year plan (1971-75). Particularly rapid growth in output took place in the production of highly efficient types of machines and equipment used in power engineering, metallurgy, and the chemical industry, light industry, and the food industry; railroad rolling stock; machine tools with digital programmed control motor vehicles; and automation equipment. The unit power of machinery and equipment has been increased; this development contributed to improvements in efficiency. Large-scale expansion and reequipment of machine-building plants is planned in order to increase production levels. A large proportion of the available capacity in metalcutting machinery and forging and molding machinery is being installed in machine-building plants. Machine-building industry is improving its technical base, technology, and organization of production with the aid of latest advances in science and engineering.

Acceleration of the scientific and technological progress of machine building is to a large degree associated with the process of concentration and specialization of production. The general-purpose enterprise, which manufactures almost all assemblies and parts for its requirements, is giving way to large complexes of specialized enterprises and to various types of associations.

Other socialist countries. Machine building is also developing rapidly in other socialist countries. Gross production in machine building and metalworking in 1972 exceeded the 1950 levels by factors of 48 in Bulgaria, 9 in Hungary, 5 in the German Democratic Republic, 20 in the Mongolian People’s Republic, 33 in Poland, 40 in Rumania, and 11 in Czechoslovakia. The socialist countries have the capabilities for manufacturing highly efficient technical equipment in a wide range of items. They have up-to-date manufacturing enterprises and qualified personnel. In 1972, machine building and metalworking accounted for the following percentages of the total personnel employed in industrial and production work: 31 percent in Hungary, about 42 percent in the German Democratic Republic, more than 31 percent in Poland, and more than 37 percent in Czechoslovakia.

Highly developed branches of machine building include the manufacture of some types of intraplant transportation equipment in Bulgaria, the radio industry and the manufacture of buses in Hungary, shipbuilding in Poland, production of chemical and petroleum machinery in Rumania, heavy machine building in Czechoslovakia, instrument-making, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of machines and equipment for heavy industry in the German Democratic Republic, and shipbuilding in Yugoslavia. The increase in gross output in the socialist countries is provided by the growth of fixed productive assets and by increasing labor productivity.

The international socialist division of labor based on production specialization among the branches of industry is of great importance for the development of machine building in the socialist countries, primarily member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). In 1966-70, Soviet imports of machine products from member countries of COMECON were valued at almost 12 billion rubles. The composition of shipments is changing: the proportion of finished machines, equipment for mechanization and automation of production processes, and electronic computer equipment is increasing, which determines the further development of machine building in those countries. The implementation of the Comprehensive Program for the Further Extension and Improvement of Cooperation and the Development of Socialist Economic Integration, adopted by the 25th session of COMECON in 1971, had a great effect on the growth of gross machine-building output in the member countries of COMECON.

Capitalist countries. Most of the machine production of the capitalist world comes from the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Switzerland; the USA is dominant among them. In 1970 the USA accounted for about 30 percent of the total value of metalworking equipment, about 50 percent of the electrical equipment (including industrial and consumer items), more than 60 percent of the electronic equipment, 45 percent of the power-engineering equipment, 30 percent of the tractors, and more than 30 percent of the passenger cars and commercial vehicles manufactured in the main capitalist countries. The Federal Republic of Germany occupies second place in the manufacture of products of machine building (with the exception of ships, motor vehicles, and electronic equipment). Among capitalist nations Japan occupies first place in shipbuilding and second place (after the USA) in the manufacture of motor vehicles and electronic equipment.

In capitalist countries with well-developed machine-building industries the manufacture of machinery and equipment is highly monopolized. Leading monopolies of the machine-building industry make heavy capital investments in other countries to expand the markets for machines and equipment and to use production capacity more efficiently. The expansion of American monopolies into Europe is particularly pronounced. In the early 1970’s, as a result of heavy capital investment in the motor-vehicle industries of Western Europe, the monopolies of the United States controlled 50 percent of the total output of passenger cars in Great Britain, one-third of the total motor-vehicle output in the Federal Republic of Germany, and up to one-third of the passenger car output in the Netherlands. American monopoly capital controls more than 20 percent of tractor production in the Federal Republic of Germany and about 45 per-cent in France. American subsidiaries in Western Europe account for 50 percent of the output of semiconductors, 95 per-cent of the output of integrated circuits, and 80 percent of the output of electronic computers.

Very large monopolies are playing an increasing role in the capitalist machine-building industry and simultaneously imparting to it a militaristic nature because of the aggressive quality of imperialist policy. At present, the radioelectronic and shipbuilding industries, disregarding the branches and enterprises of machine building that supply machines and equipment for the armament industry, have been militarized to the greatest degree.


Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Gosudarstvennyi piatiletnii plan razvitiia narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR na 1971-1975 gody [collection]. Moscow, 1972.
Rozenfel’d, Ia. S., and K. I. Klimenko. Istoriia mashinostroeniia SSSR. Moscow, 1961.
Ekonomika mashinostroitel’noi promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1968.
Statisticheskii ezhegodnik stran-chlenov Soveta Ekonomicheskoi Vzaimopomoshchi. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In accordance with the strategic instructions of the First President and the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's orders, the development of machine building industry is one of the priorities in the work of the Government.
- "State Machine Building Design Bureau "Vympel" by name I.I.
It is expected that the sectoral direction of the companies will cover the sectors of mutual interest, like heavy machine building; chemical, fertilizer, pharmaceutical and food industry; mining; energy; transport; cosmetics; Electrical and Electronics; information and communication technologies; agricultural products; construction, etc., but this will be confirmed upon receipt of the composition of the Iranian Business Delegation, which is expected to be received early next week.
Along with Shafei, Iranian businessmen involved in food industry, agricultural sector, livestock sector, machine building, electronic equipment production, petrochemical and chemical industries and health tourism sector are expected to visit Azerbaijan.
Ferrostaal Piping primarily supplies the chemical, petrochemical and machine building segments.
The trade fair was inaugurated by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, more than 95 countries are participating in the Exhibition showcasing the products from Industrial Automation, Power Engineering, and Machine Building and Components.
Actual Problems and Decisions in Machine Building; select papers
It is planned that the companies that should receive state funds will include leading Russian machine-building enterprises such as the Savelovsky Machine Building Plant, the Russian Research & Development Tooling Institute (both of which are part of Stankoprom), the Sterlitamak Machine-Tool Plant, which is part of Russian Stan Industrial Group, the Donpressmash plant, Sasta enterprise and some others.
More than 1 billion euros have been invested into Kazakhstan's machine building over the last 4 years, said Minister of Investment and Development Asset Issekeshev speaking at the "Machine Building in the Program for the Industrialization of Kazakhstan from 2015 - 2019" forum on October 10.
Besides the company's multiple-axis ServoGear hydraulics, which are said to have been defining the industry standard in rubber injection molding machine building, the firm now offers EcoSilence temperature control units.
Litex Motors Corporation, a joint venture of the Chinese private automaker Great Wall Motors (GWM), here on Tuesday won Bulgaria's award "Investor of the Year 2012" in the Machine Building category, Xinhua reported.The joint venture between GWM and its Bulgaria partner Litex Commerce opened last February an auto assembly plant near the town of Lovech in northern Bulgaria, involving an investment of 29 million U.S.