Heavy industry is industry that involves one or more characteristics such as large and heavy products; large and heavy equipment and facilities (such as heavy equipment, large machine tools, and huge buildings); or complex of numerous processes. Because of those factors, heavy industry involves higher capital intensity than light industry does, and it is also often more heavily cyclical in investment and employment.
Transportation and construction along with their upstream manufacturing supply businesses have been the bulk of heavy industry throughout the industrial age, along with some capital-intensive manufacturing. Traditional examples from the mid-19th century through the early 20th included steelmaking, artillery production, locomotive erection, machine tool building, and the heavier types of mining. From the late 19th century through the mid-20th, as the chemical industry and electrical industry developed, they involved components of both heavy industry and light industry, which was soon also true for the automotive industry and the aircraft industry. Modern shipbuilding (since steel replaced wood) is considered heavy industry. Large systems are often characteristic of heavy industry such as the construction of skyscrapers and large dams during the post–World War II era, and the manufacture/deployment of large rockets and giant wind turbines through the 21st century.
Many East Asian countries rely on heavy industry as part of their overall economies. Among Japanese and Korean firms with "heavy industry" in their names, many are also manufacturers of aerospace products and defense contractors to their respective countries' governments such as Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries and Korea's Hyundai Rotem, a joint project of Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Heavy Industries.
Heavy industry is also sometimes a special designation in local zoning laws.
- Morris Teubal, "Heavy and Light Industry in Economic Development" The American Economic Review, Vol. 63, No. 4. (Sep. 1973), pp. 588–596.
- "Some Definitions in the Vocabulary of Geography", IV, British Association Glossary Committee, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 118, No. 3. (Sep. 1952), pp. 345–346.
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