Heavy Industry

Updated on January 29, 2024
Article bySusmita Pathak
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Heavy Industry?

Heavy industry refers to businesses that invest heavily in producing massive items, equipment, and facilities for industrial consumers. It mainly works on large-scale, long-term projects, which helps to advance infrastructure, encourage cyclical investment, and create jobs. However, it may result in high entry barriers and limited transportability.

what is heavy industry

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A heavy industry entails manufacturing processes and supplies to larger entities, such as businesses and governments. Their existence is necessary for a more stable economyEconomyAn economy comprises individuals, commercial entities, and the government involved in the production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of products and services in a society.read more. Examples are mining, shipping, chemicals, transportation, construction, aerospace, defense, steel, oil, gas, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • The heavy industry definition refers to any sector using higher capital costs, advanced infrastructure, heavy equipment, and several complex procedures to make huge goods and facilities on a massive scale.
  • It aids in advancing infrastructure, encouraging cyclical investment, and creating jobs. It may, however, result in significant entry hurdles and transportation limitations.
  • It does not provide end-user services but rather to other industries or governments. As a result, they contribute significantly to a country’s infrastructure and economic development.
  • Industries like mining, shipbuilding, chemicals, transportation, energy, construction, aerospace, defense, steel, petroleum, etc., may damage the environment and be far from crowded areas.

How Heavy Industries Work?

Heavy industries often provide services directly to other industries or governments, not end-users. These, thus, make a considerable contribution to a country’s infrastructureInfrastructureInfrastructure refers to fundamental physical and technological frameworks that a region or industry establishes for its economy to function properly.read more and economic development. The term ‘heavy’ signifies the involvement of large machinery and factories in producing large goods, equipment, and facilities. These demand a significant amount of capital to run the operations, pay specialized workers, and produce a high output volume.

Heavy industries employ most of the population, including engineers, low-skilled workers, management professionals, etc. These also present cyclical investment opportunities for more expensive and long-term undertakings.

These industries first appeared during the 20th century’s Industrial Revolution, which coincided with the second American Revolution. Skyscrapers, huge dams, and massive wind turbines were built post-World War II. Steel, locomotives, defense supplies, machine tools, and mining equipment manufacturing also sprouted up. In addition, it resulted in breakthroughs in areas like space exploration and renewable energy generation.

Roles of heavy industry

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Although heavy industries are crucial for an economy worldwide, they severely influence the environment. These are infamous for causing pollution, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, oil spills, and exposing local populations and workers to health concerns.

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Examples of Heavy Industry

Let us consider the following heavy industry examples to understand its definition and importance:

#1 – Space

The space industry is responsible for manufacturing large space vehicles and equipment, for example, rockets and artificial satellites.

#2 – Shipbuilding

This industry manufactures commercial and naval ships, other related machinery, and floating vessels, for example, torpedoes.

#3 – Energy

This industry manufactures equipment essential for generating power and renewable energy sources, including wind turbines, solar panels, etc.

#4 – Construction

This industry is responsible for infrastructure development, such as public and private buildings, flyovers, dams, etc.

#5 – Transportation

This industry deals manufacturing of trains, aircraft, buses, and other public transport.

Other examples of heavy industries include mining, chemicals, materials, machines, tools, equipment, etc.

Heavy Industry vs Light Industry

The light industry is responsible for small-scale manufacturing. It is concerned with production processes that do not require much capital or space. Rather than intermediaries or other sectors, these industries produce goods for end-users. Also, these industries are allowed to operate near residential areas, industrial parks, public places, etc. Examples include food units, paper making, electronic home appliances, etc.

On the other hand, heavy industries manufacture massive equipment, tools, and machinery. The production processes in such industries can cause environmental dangers, such as greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, etc. As a result, such businesses are typically located well away from residential areas. Heavy industry companies sell their products to other industries. Heavy industry is a particular category in local zoning rules enacted by authorities that control land use and construction.

Heavy IndustryLight Industry
Manufactures heavy productsManufactures light products
Sells to businesses or governmentsSells to consumers directly
Heavy capital investments requiredRequire less capital investment
Specialized workforceSkilled labor
Normally, located far off from crowded placesOperate near residential areas and public places
High barriers to entryLow barriers to entry

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the heavy industry?

Heavy industry refers to manufacturing huge products, equipment, and facilities using large machinery and factories. Running the operations, paying specialist staff, and producing a large volume of goods on a large scale requires a huge amount of capital. It serves other industries or governments rather than end-users. As a result, they contribute considerably to a country’s infrastructure and economic growth. It contributes to infrastructure development, cyclical investment, and employment creation. However, it may result in considerable access barriers and transit restrictions.

What is the difference between heavy industry and light industry?

Heavy industry vs light industry

What are the benefits of heavy industry?

#1 – Creates more job opportunities
#2 – Encourages cyclical investment
#3 – Leads to significant innovations
#4 – Strengthens the regional infrastructure and economy
#5 – Provides services to larger entities and governments
#6 – Develops heavy machinery, tools, equipment, huge facilities, etc.

This has been a guide to Heavy Industry and its definition. Here we discuss how heavy industry works, along with examples and differences from the light industry. You may also learn more about financing from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Karen Titshaw says

    This is a great example of the differences is heavy and light industry. I will use it everytime I get asked what heavy industry is.

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