CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
IMPLICATIONS OF THE PLANNED EXPANSION IN THE SOVIET MACHINE TOOL AND METAL FORMING MACHINERY INDUSTRIES
INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Research and Reports
II- Current and Planned Production
A. Comparison of Soviet and US
B- Comparison of Soviet and US Technology
C. Comparison of Soviet and US
III. Implications of planned Expansion
B- AutOcnatiOii and. Increased
Appendix C- Sourci;
Hachtnery in the USSR and the US,
Figure 1. Comparison orverageof Machine Tools andvith5 Actual andproduction (Chnrl)
figure 2. prlnary Machine Tool andPlants In the USSR,
IMPLICATIONS OF THE PLANNED EXPANSION rN THE 3QVTEJ' KACKTrJB TOOL AND METALFORMING MACHINERY INDUSTRIES*
In recent years the USSR has surpassed the US in production of machine tools, lanned Soviet production will be more than double the average annual US productionI-5I1 and probably will substantially exceed economically feasible US productionreduction of metalforming machinery In the USSR0 will be well below that in the US; the Soviet plan0 callsroduction of aboutercent of the average annual US productionn view of the past performance of the Soviet metalvorking machineryhe high priority that it receives, and the skill of its managers, the production goals appear to be within Soviet During theears the level of technology in the metal-working machinery industry of the USSR is expected to be fullyto that of the US.
, * The estimates and conclusions contained in this memorandumthe best Judgment of ORR as of* The metalworking machinery industry consists of two major branches machine tools and metalforming machinery. The machine tool industry includes plants producing nonportable machinery which progressively removes chips, such as lathes, milling machines, shapera, and planers. Grinding, honing, and lapping machines also are included even though the chips removed ore microscopic The metalforming machineryincludes plants producing nonportable machines which process metal by shaping or bending, such as hot and cold, forging machinery;and hydraulic presses; and bendinn andinching andand rivetine machinery.
Comparisons of annual production do notomparison ofuctivc eupaoity. Both the US and the Soviet metalworkingndustries, for example, could increase production considerably over present levels by more intensive use O. facilities-
Based on the assumption of substantially increased rates ofand exports and on the fulfillment of the machine tool production goals of the Sixth Five Year, the Soviet inventory of machine tools probably willillion unitsompared
with an estimated US inventoryillion The average age of Soviet machine tools, however,lesa than that of US-machine toolu. The USfmachinery will be well above that of the USSR ina large proportion of US production ofle used in the consumer goods industries, however,could supply itsindustries with-
out equaling US production'
Soviet plans callew_raetaluorkigg auchlncry plants in tlie Ur4lo_and Siberia. If the" planned goals are met, the proportion of Soviet production of machine tools ln these areas will increase from about JO percent of the totalI1 to overercentnd these areas will produce fromCj.he total Soviet production of metalforming machinery in IT* location of the new plants will help in the establishrwnt Of dispersed and fully_lnitegrated Industrial centers In these areas'.
Production of new types qf machine tools will be important In the Soviet automation program. Development and production of new types or automatic machine tools, automatic lines, and transfer machinery will be carried out by organizations under the Ministry of Machine Tool Building and Tool Industry. In addition, the high level of planned production of metalworklng machinery is Intended to facilitate the program for extensive replacement andof obsolete equipment.
Soviet plans, if met, wll) enable the USSR to Increasethe flow of metalworklng machinery for replacement and export and will permit the USSR to add machines to Its Inventoryate substantially exceeding the annual increases to the US inventory during Uw past few years.
A Inrge, well-dispersed metalworklng machinery industry is of key Importance in providing the USSR with an econonic base for war and with the ability to recuperate quickly after extensive industrial destruction. The significance of the metalworklng machinery industry
inigh rate or industrial growth and increasing the level of labor productivity has been widely stressed, most recently in the Soviet Sixth Five Year.
This memorandum assesses current und planned developments in the metalworklng machinery industry of the USSR- Particular attention is paidomparison of the Soviet metalworklng machinery industry with that of the US, the significance of new plant locations in the USSR, and the effects of the planned increase -in production on the industrial economy of the USSR.
II. Current and Planned Production.
A. Comparison of Soviet and US Production.
Soviet production of metalworking machinery5nits, ofnits were machine tools0 units were metalforming machines. The Sixth Five Year Plan calls for productionachine tools0 metalforming machinesn Increase ofercent In each category.
The accompanying table* shows that annual Sovietmachine tools has increased from0 units nits5 and that production ofhas increase* from approximatelynitsaits inUS production of machine tools has
fluctuated somewhat because of the Korean War. The figures for US production of metalforming machinery ore heavily weighted with 'machines used in producing appliances and other consumer goods,those for Soviet production. Machine tools, which are more important than metalforming machinery in the development of heavy industry, have made up aboutercent of the total production of metalworking machinery in the USSR in recent years. In the US, where consumer goods production has received more emphasis than in the USSR, machine tools make up aboutercent of the totalof metalvorking machinery.
omparee average annual US production ofmachinery* with actual Soviet production5 and planned Soviet production Annual US production of metalworking machinery varies substantially from year to year,
The table follows on p. U. *" Following
Estimated Production of Machine Tools and Metalforming Machinery in the USSR and theI-6O
he margin of error is plus orercent;plus or minusercent.
he margin of error isinusorcent;plus or minusercent. All US manufacturers do notof machine tools. The Rational Machine Toolwhose members produce aboutercent of USnot make unit production figures available for the wholeBureau of the Census figures are not comparable with Sovietin fact, with other US figures, because of differences lnfor US production of machine tools are adjusted figuresnational Machine Tool Builders Association (see for US production of metalforming machinery have beentables in the US Bureau of the Census Facts for Industry Seriesproducts nlmilar to those known to be produced In the USSR.
he margin of error is plus or minusercent;plus or minusercent;o minusercent.
omparison of annuul production is thereforeeliable measure or productive capacity. Although the average annual US production of machine toolsuu0 units, the Industry has producedate ofnits annually during wartime. The USSR, likewise, can Increaseby more Intensive use of facilities and multiple-shift The present Soviet rate of production appears to beon the equivalenthlft basis. 5/ Moreover, the Soviet government has given the Soviet machine tooligh priority in all phases of production, and tbe managers of this Industry appear to be competent.
lanned Soviet production of machine tools will beercent of the uverage annual US production Planned Soviet production of metalforming machinery will be approximately It5 percent of the average annual US production
A major reason for the Soviet ability toarge
number of machine tools Is their concentrationtandard line
of tools which may be manufacturedontinuous production-line,
ratherob-lot, basis. The following observation
recently returned from the USSR is :
Tn one plant
we visited we saw mgehjnew-jngin mass production. In one particular line,
they wereachine similarwasey screw machine or turret lathe. After being machined, the bed is placedalking bean, floor-type conveyor. As thedown tbe line, ways ore scraped and the balance of the machine is completely assembled. This line can produce overachine tools per day. They buildachinco per month.
tools of this type generally are madeob-lot basis in USin batches ofrt one time. The system used in tbe USSRhe important advantage of permitting the productionreat number of machine topis of one type, fe'lowedhift to production of machine tools of different types.
This efficient technique for producing machine tools seems to be reflected in Soviet prices. 'An analysis of ruble-dollar price ratiosumber of comparable Soviet and US machine tools indicated
that Soviet machine toolslass probably arc priced lover,to the OS product, than any other category of goods. Ruble-dollar price ratios forachine tools, representative of perhapsercent of Soviet production, average, compared with price ratios ofor all capital goods and of1 for raw materials."
Estimating US production0 is not feasible, because annual US production of machine tools has been traditionally subject to major fluctuations- It is almost certain, however, that Soviet production will substantially exceed economically feasible US production0 because the USSR is planning toigher rate of industrial growth than the US and is attempting to equal the US economic base for military production and US productivityhort period of time.
Because the product mix of both US and Soviet production of machine tools has been constantly changing, an accurate comparison of the productive capacity which con be obtained from each country's annual production of machine tools is more difficult. Some small machine tools, such as those used in watchmaking, were not builtroductionn the USSR hesehave been included in Soviet production figures. ew types, of machines which ore not classed as machine tools in the US oreto have been included in thefigures- It is estimated that Soviet production of these types of machines isercent of the reported total production. The error in comparability, however, is believed to be small.
Because much of the US production of metalforming machinery Is used in the consumer goodsomparison of annual US
Ruble-dollar price ratios are actually Indicative of relative production efficiencies only insofar as price ratios are proportional to cost ratios.
. It is known that capital goods in the USSR ore underpriced, relative to consumer goods. Consequently, thereias In the comparison. It is believed, however, that the difference in levels of the several ruble-dollar price ratios given above arc so large as to be significant regardless of the probable bios created by the fact that prices do not necessarily reflect costs in the USSR or In the US.
** In lots ofr more.
ofverage Production of Machine Took ^
and Metalforming Machinery with0 Planned Production.
and Soviet production is not on accurate measure of the relativeof the industries. Although the extent of ttic dissimilarity between the US and Soviet metalforming machinery industries cannot be determined, it is clear that the USSR could adequately supply its military and capital goods industries without equaling US production.
B. Comparison of Soviet and US Technology.
Soviet ability to design and build metalworklng machinery is believed to equal that of the US.
the UySH is oullding many models equivalent to our latest types or hydraulic- and electronic-controlled machines. machines have been under development during the past r> years. The electric-spark and anode-mechanical methods of octal rcnoval are being used more extensively in the USSR than in the US. Research on and application of high-speed cutting with ceramic tools are further advanced in the USSR than in the US.
during the past fewarge variety or advancedmachine tools were designed to be produced during the SixthPlan. These types included machine tools incorporating theof automatic tracer controls- Analysis of the specificationsmachine
that they are comparable to aavanced US types wmcn aiv now in Soviet production or precision* machine tools such as jig uorers and optical-profile grinders is still meager, altnougn i" rreai-ed production of such machine tools is within Soviet capabilities. the- greater part of Soviet requirements for thesef machine tools is supplied by Switzerlandst Germany. It is not"Or L'S manufacturers to import similar types orciiine :
The over-all level of Soviet technology in the building or n; ml forming machinery is not clearly Although Soviethave had little practical experience in building heavy nc-tuinfttheyhorough grasp of tho theoretical problems involved, as indicatedtudy of Soviet technical
' Based on Soviet terminology. *' Heavy metalforming machinery includes the following; dropfetric tons or over, double-acting lianmcrs0 kilograms or over, and hydraulic presses0 metricr over.
The developmenteavy forging press program, which in important to the aircraft industry, is entirely within Soviet capabilities, and. In fact, recent Soviet newspaper articles have revealed
metric-ton hydraulic press is now under construction in the USSR. '
Comparison of Soviet and US Inventory.
The Soviet inventory of machine tools is estimatedillion units ' The estimate ofanic. Ae much us one-third of thiscould be used for replacement of exporta substantial for bothnd the USSR could stillilliontools to its inventory. Consequently, the Soviet inventorytools could beillion unitsthe US Inventoryillion units in ' 0 mayill looillionupon business conditions and defense requirements.
Although the Soviet inventory of machine tools0 will be smaller than that of theomparison may notrue measure of the productive potential of the respective inventories. The chief Soviet advantages over the US in the use of machine toolsesult of the following factors:
reater degree of standardizationproducts ln the USSR. This standardizationthe equipping of automatic lines and shops tolong runs of end products such as automotive pistons
, and hall bearings. esult, fewer machines are needed to produce equal numbers of end products.
the USSR there is centralized controllocation of end production. Production ofcan be shifted to utilize idlein nonrelated industries. esult,are needed.
Reports fromvlaited the USSR
5 indicate that Soviet plant layout and techniques forare behind thoseof operators
appear to he roughly similar in botn countries, although the USSR probably is training greater numbers. owever, the average age of the Soviet inventory of machine tools is expected to beless than that of the US inventory.
Because there are factors oilier than.the Intrinsic vorth or technical capabilitiesachine tool vhlch influence itacomparisons of the productive potential of Soviet and US ne Laiworking Machinery should be made cautiously. Other factors which affect this productive potential favor the US. For example, core extensive use of precision casting, closed-die forging, and extrusion of metals in the US contributeseduction insuchlnery operations or eliminates them. The Soviet Sixth Five Year Plan is attempting to end this US superiority by an emphasis on the expansion of casting and forging facilities.
In view of the different advantages of each country,0 the productive potentials of the Soviet and US inventories of machine tools will be approximately proportional to the size of thewith the USlight superiority.
No estimate of the Soviet inventory of metalforming machinery is available. This inventory is, however, substantially smaller than that of the US. The USSR is believed to be deficient inpresses, large mechanical presses, and stretch-formingused for production of aircraft. Although the USSR bus several largo hydraulic forging presses. Its inventory Is small in comparison with that of the US. The Sixth Five Year Plan, however, callsourfold Increase in Soviet production of heavy metalforming machinery-
The number of units in the Soviet inventory ofmay not be an accurate measure of productionof the large proportion of buaiacrs and other lesstypes of machines in the Soviet inventory. The plannedof sTvclallied forging and pressing workshops during5willreater degree of cen-
tralized control over the use of these machines, thereby Increasing the potential of the Soviet inventory.
III. Implications of Planned Exponulon.
InSoviet production of both machine tools ond metol-fos planned to exceed that5 hyercent. Better use of existing plants is expected to provideercent of the increase In production of machine tools andercent of the
increase in production of metalformingis believed
that the remainder of the increase Inesult of the construction of now plants or the expansion of existing plants.
The USSR plans to build new machine tool plants and 6machinery plants in the Urals andnew metalforming machinery plant is under construction at
The new machine tool plants probably will be located in the Hovosibirsk-Tcmsk-Krasnoyarsk-IrkutsK areas" of western and central Siberia. According to the Sixth Five Year Plan, industrialin the Urals and Siberia will be carried onigher rate than ln other areas of the USSR- Two or three of the metalforming machinery plants probably will be located ln the Urals to supply mechanical presses, shears, cold headers, and other equipment.
In addition to plants producing machine tools, plantsrailroad locomotives, rolling stock, roadbuilding machines, and building materials are to be built in central Siberia. Tlie location of plants in this area agrees with Soviet plans to set up plants producing machinery near consuming arena. .
hows the present locations of primary metalworklng machinery plants with possible new location*.
The shift of machine tool plants eastward will alter the proportion of machine tools produced in the Urals and Siberia from approximatelyercent of the total4 - to No percentage breakdown of the location of production Is available for the metalforming machinery industry. The locationew plants ln the Urals and Siberia, however,arge addition to the production facilities ln the areas, and0 percent toercent of all metalforming machineryln the USSR will be produced in the Urals and Siberia.
These areas are shown by shading on the mop, Figure ?,
In addition to the importance of the new metalworklng machinery plants to the development of the eastern areas of the USSR, the shift also will provide strategic dispersal of the Soviet metal-working machinery industry.
B. Automation and Increased Productivity.
The Soviet Sixth Five Year Plan callsrowth inproduction of aboutercent.percent increase in the production of the means of production. ubstantial portion of this growth is to result from Increasing productivity, add this increase in productivity. In turn, is dependent upon the large planned Increase in the production of metalvorking machinery to be used in the automation of production processes.
The Planpecial section on automation nnd "complex mechanization" to be undertaken as partrogram to surpass the US level of industrial productivity. This program is to be implemented by Increased specialization in industry, modernization and replacement of obsolete equipment, and expansion of scientific and technical training, as well as by substantially increasedof automatic machinery and instruments.
During the period'of the Plan, Soviet production ofspecial, and sultipositlooal aggregate machine tools" is to increase* tines; of automatic and semiautomatic lines and equipment for automatic workshops, byimes; and of instruments and means of automation, byimes. In machine buildingutomatic and semiautomatic lines and shops aro to be commissioned. Thirty new instrument plants are to be built and commissioned, and production of "computing machines for automatic control of production processes" ' is to be increased.* ew Ministry of Instrument Building ana Automation Equipment" has been created, and it is believed that this Ministry will concentrate on general types of precision equipment andwhichide application in the automation of production processes. Organizations under the Ministry of Machine Tool Building and Toolre responsible for the development andof new types of automatic machine tools, automatic lines, and transfer machinery.
These Soviet intentions were mentionedember of the US Automation Team which visited the USSR.
** Mlninterstvorcdstv Mlnlsterstvonstrumental'noy Promy-shlennos tl.
.'The USSR has been successfully designing and buildingtype* of automat ionTl The Experimental andInstitute for Metalc'uttlng Machine Toolshese advanced automated lines- Theae lines are builtthe experimental plant associated withmember of thethe following observation !
that is completelyanc. Trie roller bcur*ng forging8 arc put Into hoppers at one end. They arc completely machined,urnace, ground, inspected, assembled and wrapped in oilod paper and sealed without being touched by hand. This line Is completely automated.
' Memberson to say that the work had been done
very efficiently, and one member added,ove neveretter example of automation in my life-"I
/ccd-back control automation, using closed-loop servomechanisms regulated by computer data, is not yet evident in Soviet machineoviet textbooks and articles ln Journals, however, indicate that there Is strong Interest ln the theory, its appl1catloos, andof economic feasibility. EHIMS is in close liaison with the Institute of Automatics and Telemechanics,'Academy of Sciences, USSR, which has been established to study problems of advancedENIMS undoubtedly will Incorporate perfocted feed-backautomation into machining processes as soon uu possible.
* Mechanical transfer of components between integrated manufacturing operations.
Eksperlmental'nyy Rauchno-Issledovatel'akly Institut Metallo-rezhushchikh Stankov.
This lack was specifically noted by the US Automation* Institutelt-mekhaniki.
In contrast to the Increase in Soviet production of machine toola, the planned Increase in production of metalforming machinery does not appear to be closely related to the automation program. Although some of the new preaseB und forging machines probably will
he used in automatii
of the capital goods Industry which has been relatively neg-
;ic lines, the emphasis seems to be onr me ci '
It is difficult to assess the magnitude of the Sovietprogram or to compare it with US achievements. In the past, however, the USSR has given wide publicity to automaticin technical Journals and at trade fairs and'plant visits. If the USSR continues to publicize achievements in automation duri
the first years of the Sixth Five fear plan, much more Informati^ can be collected on the magnitude of the automation program.
C- Replacement and Modernization.
The Sixth Five Year Plan announcement stressed the necessity of extensive replacement and modernization of obsolete equipment" and of renewingonsiderable extent the pool of metalworking machinery. . /The Soviet replacement, policy appears to becareiui. reexamination, and special attention is being paid to US industrial policy. The State Committee on New Technology (Gostekhnika) and the new deputy ministers of new technology in each economic ministry hove been specifically charged with facilitating replacement and modernization.
In the past, machine tools have not been replacedarge scale- Plants have usually done their own repairing or have sent machine tools to rebuilding plants, large machine tools withbelow the ground level have been reconditioned by traveling repair brigades.
The Soviet inventory of machineontains numerous older belt-diiveii machine tools which were converted to motor-driventools after World Bar II. Although no formula for determining retirement is available, these older machines probably will befirst. etirement program would requireoercent of annual Soviet production of machine tools during the'period of the Sixth Five Year Plan, ornits. Noretirement of metalforming machinery is expected. Although work :uay be transferred from haonners Lo presses, the hammers probably will remain in service for use in ancillary production.
The substantial increase in Soviet production will give the USSR the capability to modernize its inventory of metalworking
machinery so that the average age of Soviet machines will beless than that of US machines- One result ofprogram should be the lowering and equalizationcosts, which are known to vary widely from plantresult may be the release of used machine
D- Foreign Trade.
In theears, almost all Soviet exports of machine tools have been to countries of the Sino-Sovlet Bloc. Each of the members of the Bloc (with the exception of Albania) now issome machine tools, and the exports to the Bloc have been Communist China, the largest recipient of Soviethas reduced its Imports and is becoming more selective. China's needs during the nextears, however, are not known. Soviet exports to the West have been insignificant.
Because Soviet production of machine tools probably willnits over theears, the USSR will have the capacity to increase substantially its industrial base. At the same time, the ussr will be able to replace much of its inventory of obsolete machine tools and still retain the capacity to carryizable export program if it so desires.
/sales of metalworklng machinery to the West could be an important weapon of economic warfare, especially in underdeveloped areas. In. Shepilov, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Soviet of Nationalities, USSR, said that tlie reetnpliasls on heavy industry has helped totockpile of capital goods for trade with underdeveloped countries
The USSR hasubstantial net importer of metalforming machinery. During theears, planned expansion will reduce Soviet dependence upon imports. Because of the planned construction of specialized forging and pressing workshops, the probable equipping of plants with new presses, and the present low level of production of metalforming machinery, however, no substantial amount Of exports is expected.
Soviet Imports Of machine tools nave become progressively smaller since .World War II. At present, Soviet imports are madeighly selective basis, limited chiefly to high-precision machine
tools such as jig borers and gear grinders arid to large vertical and horizontal boring mills and piano-milling machines- Although the USSR has the capability to produce its requirements for thesetools, machine tools of comparable quality probably can be procured relatively more cheaply from other countries.
1- Soviet Production of Machine Toole.
Figures for Soviet production of machine tools duringtakenIAfigure for production in
as calculated from the panned figure0igure announced as beingercent greater than production Figures for production estimates vhich allow for increased production in the later years because of the construction of planned plants.
2. roduction of fetalforrTlng Machinery.
Inoviet newspaper announced that the goalof metalforming machinery0nits,ofercent over production into
one report, production5ercent Production05 was estimated by interpolation, and productionas estimated under the assumption that the major shore of the planned Increase would occurhen the new plants are to begin operations.
J. US Production of Machine
No unit figures for US production of machine tools5 arc available. The figures for production5 were estimated by adjusting the available value figures by an average unit value figure for previous years adjusted to reflect estimated changes In value.
U. Soviet Retirement of Machine Tools.
A large portion of the Soviet Inventory of machine tools is less thanoears old, and the age distribution is skewed by the presence of large'numbers of machine tools produced since World War II. In the past the USSR has undertaken no large-scale replacement of machine tools. Retirement of obsolete machine tools which are not fully worn out seems to be only in the discussion stage. Because the
Soviet inventory contains numerous older belt-driven machine tools which were converted to motor-driven machine tools after World War II, it is probable that these machine tools will be retired first. The estimated retirement will equaloercent of annual Soviet production of machine tools during the period of the jixth Five fear Plan, ornits.
GAPS IS rj*TELLICfcWCE
A more detailed comparison or the US and Soviet metalworklng ma-ehlnery Industries is preventedack or Information concerning the following:
unit production of machine tools and metal-
forming machinery by types.
distribution of soviet production of
metalworklng machinery by types, especially the number of newer typen of machine tools being produced.
3- An adequate and precise definition of the Soviet metalforming machinery industry.
Information on the Soviet Inventory of metalforming machinery is fragmentary as regards both total quantity and types.
More complete information is needed on the amount and nature of production at Soviet metairorralng machinery plants as well as on the number or metalforming machines produced at secondary plants.
Almost no information isthe planned Soviet replace
ment policy during the Sixth Five This information Is
required for accurate estimates orinventories orand metalforming machinery.
Information is needed on the planned location, amount and nature of production, and status of construction of theew metalworklng machinery plants in the Urals and Siberia.
Information is also needed on the Soviet automation program, its direction, and especially the actual, as opposed to the reported, authority of Costckhnlku.
ations, following the classification entry and designatedavewtsignificance:
Hot usually reliable
- Confirmed by other sources
- Probably true
- Possibly true- Doubtful
- Probably false
- Cannot be Judged
Evaluations not otherwise designated are those appearing onocument; those designated "RR" are by the author of this Ho "RR" evaluation is given when the author agrees vith the evaluation on the cited, document.
All sources arc evaluatednless otherwise indicated.
1- CIA. U-
Bureau of the Budget. Standard Industrialmal, vol 1', pt. u. "Eval. Doe.
Daily Report (USSR and Eastern
Daily Report (USSR and Easterno 11
F). CIA. . Lcvsbits.
azmeshchenlyu promyshlennosti SSSR (Outline of the Distribution or USSR,- U)
of the Census. Metalworking Machinery (Except Machine
acts for Industry>U. Eval. Doc.
Bureau of the Census. Metalworking Machinery, Fourth Quarter and Summary, Facts for Industry Scries,4 U. Eval. Doc.
N-L. "Russia: An American View of Redhe
Ironob sfi. n. is. ri
9. Moskin, Ye K. "Developoent Trends in (kavy Forging it. i7. U.
Soviet Ufti"" Si*. U.
Dally Report (USSR and Eastern. CC lU.
p.CC . CC 6; ..
SummarySSR Production of Industrial
Dally Report (USSR and Eastern.. dfv
DailySSR and Eastern.
Hansen, Welles. "US Experts laud Factory tnew York Timeo,. 9. U.Original document.
Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: