Input – Concept, characteristics, types and raw material

We explain what an input is, its characteristics and what types exist. Also, differences between inputs and raw materials.

The inputs do not reach the consumer but help to produce consumable goods.

What is an input?

We call input to any element that intervenes in the production process and is consumed in the process, that is, it contributes to the transformation of raw materials into consumer goods, but which are different from the latter. This word comes from Latin roots in (“Inside”) and sumere (“Take”, “assume”) and is linked to the Spanish verb input which means “to employ”, “to invest money”.

In other words, we call inputs to various materials extracted from nature or produced by human labor, which instead of being consumed directly, contribute to the production of other consumable goods. They are, therefore, valuable resources for the economic circuit, and are present in any productive work.

The inputs can be:

  • Fixed: They are indispensable for the productive work in which you intervene.
  • Variables: They are only necessary in certain cases.

Even so, in all productive work, of whatever type, some type of input is needed.

Types of inputs

Broadly speaking, it is possible to distinguish between two categories of inputs, from an economic point of view:

  • Job, which refers to labor, that is, the effort made by workers to convert raw materials into finished products.
  • Productive capital, which refers to the tools, facilities, machinery and technology in general that are needed to carry out productive tasks. It should not be confused with liquid capital (money).

Another way of classifying inputs is that which distinguishes between the type of employment given to them: medical supplies, for example, are those destined for medical or hospital work; industrial inputs, those that are part of productive work, especially in basic industries; ectétera.

Difference between input and raw material

raw material inputs
The raw material, such as flour, is what the inputs allow to transform.

We must not confuse the inputs, which intervene in the production process to allow, facilitate and / or control it, with the raw material that is precisely what is transformed into the elaborated object or semi-finished, that is, that which undergoes the productive transformation.

Raw material is essential for production, as are many inputs, but without raw material there would be nothing to transform, or what to use the various inputs available.