Fixed capital is a physical asset that is used in a business, such as factory machinery, buildings, computers, or vehicles, which are necessary for the long-term functioning of the business. It is different from working capital, which is used for day-to-day operations. Fixed capital is typically more expensive and takes longer to acquire than working capital, as it is intended to be used for a longer period of time. From a management perspective, fixed capital is a strategic investment that can provide long-term returns, such as increased efficiency, improved customer service, or enhanced competitive advantage.
Example of fixed capital
- Factory Machinery: Factory machinery is an example of fixed capital that is used in many businesses. This type of capital includes the equipment used to manufacture products, such as drills, presses, lathes, and other specialized machines. These machines are expensive and require a significant investment for the business, but their use can increase production efficiency and enable the business to produce higher-quality products.
- Buildings: Buildings are a common form of fixed capital used in many businesses. Businesses may buy or rent a building to house their operations and use the space for production, storage, and other activities. The building may also include office space for employees, meeting rooms, and other amenities. This type of capital is typically long-term in nature and requires a significant investment, but it can provide the business with a physical space to conduct its operations.
- Computers: Computers are a form of fixed capital used in many businesses. These devices are necessary for the business to operate and can be used for tasks such as accounting, customer service, and data analysis. Computers require a significant investment and are often more expensive than other types of capital, but they can provide businesses with increased efficiency and improved productivity.
- Vehicles: Vehicles are another example of fixed capital used in many businesses. This type of capital includes cars, vans, trucks, and other vehicles used for transportation or delivery purposes. Vehicles require a significant investment, but they can provide businesses with a way to transport goods and services to customers and increase their operational efficiency.
When to use fixed capital
Fixed capital should be used when a business needs to invest in long-term assets that are necessary for the functioning of the business. Examples of when to use fixed capital include:
- Investing in factory machinery to increase production capacity
- Purchasing buildings or land to expand the business’s physical presence
- Acquiring computer systems to improve operational efficiency
- Investing in vehicles to expand distribution capabilities
- Buying long-term equipment to improve customer service or create competitive advantages
Types of fixed capital
Fixed capital generally consists of tangible assets used in a business that help generate revenue over a long period of time. These assets include machinery, buildings, vehicles, computers, and other equipment that are necessary for the long-term functioning of a business. Below are the most common types of fixed capital:
- Machinery: This includes any form of equipment or technology used to produce goods or services. This could include industrial equipment, computers, and other technological devices.
- Buildings: Buildings are used for a variety of purposes, such as office space, warehouses, or factories. They are a major part of the fixed capital for many businesses.
- Vehicles: Vehicles are used for transportation and delivery of goods. They are also used for business travel and can be a significant part of fixed capital.
- Equipment: Equipment is any type of apparatus used to produce goods or services. This could include tools, furniture, or other items necessary for business operations.
- Software: Software is a type of technology used to facilitate various tasks and operations. It can help businesses increase productivity and efficiency.
Limitations of fixed capital
Fixed capital is an important investment for businesses, but it can also have limitations. These include:
- High upfront costs - Acquiring fixed capital often requires a large initial investment, which can be difficult to cover.
- Long-term commitment - Fixed capital is intended to be used over a long period of time, so businesses must be prepared to commit to a particular asset for a long period.
- Difficulty adjusting to changing market conditions - Fixed capital may become obsolete over time, making it difficult for businesses to adjust to changing market conditions.
- Risk of obsolescence - As technology and market conditions evolve, fixed capital may become outdated and require costly upgrades or replacement.
- Difficulty disposing of assets - When businesses need to dispose of fixed capital, they may find it difficult to do so in a timely and cost-effective manner.
In addition to the traditional view of fixed capital as physical assets, there are other approaches that can be used to consider fixed capital. These include:
- Intangible assets such as intellectual property, software, patents, and trademarks: Intangible assets are important for businesses as they can provide competitive advantage or help a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Additionally, intangible assets can help to create customer loyalty and provide potential future revenue streams.
- Human capital: Human capital refers to the knowledge and skills of an individual or a group of people. It can be used to create value for a business, such as through innovation, customer service, and product development.
- Financial capital: Financial capital refers to the money that is available for a business to use to fund operations, research and development, and investments.
Overall, fixed capital is an important concept for businesses, as it encompasses a variety of investments that can help to drive long-term growth and profitability. By considering both traditional physical assets and emerging approaches such as intangible assets, human capital, and financial capital, businesses can make more informed decisions about their investments and create more value for their stakeholders.
- Pollard, S. (1964). Fixed capital in the industrial revolution in Britain. The Journal of Economic History, 24(3), 299-314.