Industrial engineering is an engineering profession that involves figuring out how to make or do things better. Industrial engineers are concerned with reducing costs, improving the quality of work and end product, increasing efficiency along with taking care about worker health and safety, complying with government regulations and environment protection. Industrial engineers use specialized skills and knowledge together with principles and methods of engineering to gain readable, useful results from which is possible to create new systems and processes or improve existing ones for efficient coordination of labour, materials and machines along with productivity increase and quality improvement. In the following work will be going through a short history of industrial engineering, most important persons and techniques, approach to the workers used by industrial engineers and elaborate the contribution to the organization to be competitive with help of work measurement and engineering methods.
- HISTORY AND ORIGINS
There is evidence that some of the principles have been originated and used in ancient times. For example in 2900 B.C., the Egyptians demonstrated all functions of management by utilizing planing, control, work allocation, predicting, directing by building the remarkable pyramids (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.47–48). around Year 1950 B.C. The Babylonians used the principle of a minimum wage, labor specialization was used around 1644 B.C. by The Chinese and The Romans had a primitive form of factory system for production (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3). The Romans also perfected military organizational structure which is still the basis for some today’s organization of work (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3). Although we have evidence of ancient work management, the Industrial Revolution that started in England around 1770 with invention of several new machines for the production of textile is what resulted in fundamental changes how work is being organized and accomplished (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3). Approximately during the same period the important concept of interchangeable parts manufacture was being introduced in the United Stated (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3). The need for more efficient production methods development arise with introduction of several consumer products such as sewing machine, bicycle and automobile in order to meet the demand for this products and it is being considered as the Second Industrial Revolution (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3-4). During this period visible are the effects of this need by introduction of mass production, assembly lines and scientific management.
Mass production was an answer to a large demand for products that was developed in the United State in the early 20th century. One of the important technologies of mass production was the moving assembly line firstly applied for a production of cars in the United States (P. Groover, 2014, pp.4).
The scientific management is the response to the need to plan and control the activities of growing numbers of production workers and was started late 19th century in the United States. The scientific management principal approaches are: “motion study, time study to establish work standards for a job, extensive use of standards in industry, the piece rate system and similar labor incentive plans and use of data collection, record keeping and cost accounting in factory operations” (P. Groover, 2014, pp.4). These principal approaches, although revolutionary in the time of first implementation, are still fundamental and unavoidable techniques that are used in today’s business and industry for work management (P. Groover, 2014, pp.4).
Most important pioneers for development of this changes to work organization, principles and techniques are following: James Watt and Henry Maudslay, Eli Whitney, Robert Owen, Charles Babbage, Henry Ford, Henry L. Gantt, Frederick W. Taylor, Frank and Lilian Gilbreth (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3-4), (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.48–49).
2.1. JAMES WATT and HENRY MAUDSLAY
James Watt invented steam machine and Henry Maudslay invented screw-cutting lathe which lead to a fundamental changes how the work is being organized and accomplished – “transfer of the skill from workers to machines, the start of the machine tool industry, the introduction of factory system” (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3).
2.2. ELI WHITNEY (1765-1825)
Eli Whitney is given much credit to the concept of interchangeable parts manufacture (P. Groover, 2014, pp.3).
2.3. SIR ROBERT OWEN (1771 – 1858)
Sir Robert Owen was a pioneer in the field of human resources management. His main idea is that returns of investment in human resources is greater then investment in machinery and equipment. He introduced new ideas for human management and relations such as shorter working hours, training of workers, hygiene, rest or pause, housing facilities and more (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.48).
2.4. CHARLES BABBAGE (1791 – 1871)
Professor from Cambridge University England. Developed the idea of profit sharing and participative decision making, Pioneer in operations research (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.48). Designed a programmable computing device, first ever mechanical computer and his design blueprint served later for other more complex machines (Famousscientists.org, 2014).
2.5. HENRY FORD (1863-1947)
Henry Fordintroduced the moving assembly line firstly in production of Model T Ford car, which latter have become a form of work system and made possible the production of other complex consumer products (P. Groover, 2014, pp.4).
2.6. HENRY L. GANT (1861-1919)
Henry L. Gantts best contribution is using charts for scheduling production as visual-diagrammatic tool which later gets popular name as the Gantt Chart. He is predecessor of today’s Critical Path Metod (CPT) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.48).
2.7. FREDERICK W. TAYLOR (1856-1915)
Frederick Winston Taylor is known as the “father of scientific management” and his contributions are known as “the principles of scientific management”. He was devoted in solving managerial problems in scientific way. Some of his contributions are: scientific, systematic approach in analyzing industrial operations; applying the mechanism of time and motion study, division of work and intelligent organization of workers on the basis of their skills; descriptive cost accounting; mutual interest between workers and management; bonus for suggestions; profit sharing (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.49).
2.8. FRANK GILBRETH (1868-1924) AND LILLIAN GILBRETH (1878-1972)
Frank and Lillian contributed the most to the motion study part of scientific management and continued the concept of scientific management further from Frederick Taylor (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.49). Frank is sometimes referred as the “father of motion study” (P. Groover, 2014, pp.6). Lillian helped by arguing that scientific studies of management need to concentrate on both analysis and synthesis. Analysis brakes down the task to to its essential parts or elements and with synthesis the task is reconstructed only with elements necessary for efficient work (Karmakar and Sarkar Datta, 2012, pp.49). Frank developed two theories about work, which are considered his most important theories. First is that all work is composed of 17 basic motion elements that he called “therbligs” and the second is that there is “one best method” to perform a given task (P. Groover, 2014, pp.6).
- RECOMMEND APPROACH TO THE WORKER
It is most important that under no circumstances the time study person try to approach operative of interest without his or her knowledge, with hidden stop watch or from a covert position. It is most likely that someone will see, spread the word and further negative and hard to fix consequences are possible, also it is immoral to do so.
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After selecting representative, qualified worker for the position of interest, he or she should be approached with the supervisor and the workers’ representative. The worker should have full briefing and explanation about the purpose and the requirements of the study and should be asked to perform the observed task at normal pace, with normal rest times, should be able to exhibit any difficulties encountered. Time study and work study have nothing to hide. It is important that the person performing work study, if not already known in organization, approach first to supervisor and workers’ representatives to explain what is going to be done and why and all the answers to them should be answered honestly and sincerely. By doing so it is lowered the possibility that the study will be misunderstood or misrepresented with following negative reactions. Also it is possible that the work study is welcomed by operatives realizing its effort to improve the method of doing the job, possible reduce of the fatigue and remove of unpleasant work (INTRODUCTION TO WORK STUDY, 1992, pp.282–285).
- THE CONTRIBUTION THAT WORK MEASUREMENT AND METHODS ENGINEERING GIVE TO THE COMPETITIVE ABILITY OF AN ORGANISATION
As mentioned in introduction main occupation of an industrial engineer is to figure out how to make or do things better. They find ways how to reduce costs, increase efficiency, improve the quality of the products and services and all that by ensuring workers health and safety, protecting environment and following government regulations. Industrial engineers can work to design the operating room, make the production lines safer and more efficient, they can speed up the goods flow, they redesign the roller coaster. They are involved in pretty much all stages of production and processing such as design new facilities from ground up, they may be involved in designing new process, new tools, repurpose old ones.(Lucas, 2014).
Also industrial engineers developed and use work measurement, engineering methods and concepts to improve the competitive ability to a company or any kind of organization so next couple of paragraphs will be dedicated to elaborate some of them.
Lean manufacturing has its origins in the United States in the manufacturing process developed by Henry Ford who pressed by World War 1 depression developed new assembly lines methods and eliminated activities that did not add value to the car or were unnecessary (Adedeji Bodunde Badiru, 2014, p.38). The concept embraced Toyota in their production systems in the 1980s and developed additional supporting concepts and methods like just-in-time system (JIT) and automation (Ohno, 1988, p.4). To be called lean production system needs to have output levels with minimum buffering costs. The fundamental ideology of lean manufacturing is to eliminate the waste by acquiring only amount of the material that is sufficient for immediate needs of the production in relation to transportation time. There are three main principles of lean manufacturing: waste elimination, continuous flow and pull production system. Waste elimination tends to eliminate all sort of waste in the manufacturing process, continuous flow tends to balance the production flow and pull production system allows the company to produce units only when they receive the order for the unit. Womack and Jones (2003) describe seven types of waste in productions system, for which Toyota uses 4 tools to eliminate them. For continuous flow are developed several tools, one of which are “takt time”, “production line balancing”, “smooth production flow” (Nagara). (Adedeji Bodunde Badiru, 2014, p.38).
The relation between work study and product design is evident. Although the work study person alone is not able to perform changes to product design it is not rare that the work study has effect in simplifying product design which can lead to reduction of components parts, standardization or modularization of parts and possible use of existing machinery and equipment. Reduction in components saves a lot. It has knock on effect to the cost of acquiring the parts, assembly line, cost of equipment, inventory, floor space, storage requirements and distribution. Standardization is trying to create some standard parts that can meet requirements for several products. This also means less parts hold in stock which facilitates production planning and enables better usage of space. The ability to use existing tools, installation and/or equipment implies a great reduction cost without necessity for further elaboration (INTRODUCTION TO WORK STUDY, 1992, pp.187–188).
Industrial engineers have been playing great role in finding solutions for a different situations and challenges that humanity faced from its early beginning to this days. Industrial engineers today need, more than ever, strong and continuous training and education to gain, develop and improve instruments to deal with a world of constant change, with new disciplines, technology and complexity and all that in service of figuring out how to make or do things better.
- Famousscientists.org. (2014). Charles Babbage – Biography, Facts and Pictures. [online] Available at: https://www.famousscientists.org/charles-babbage/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019].
- INTRODUCTION TO WORK STUDY. (1992). Fourth ed. Geneva: International Labour Office, pp. 187-188 and 282–285.
- Karmakar, A. and Sarkar Datta, B. (2012). Principles and Practices of Management and Business Communication. First ed. India: Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd., pp.47–48.
- Lucas, J. (2014). What Is Industrial Engineering? [online] livescience.com. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/48250-industrial-engineering.html./[ Accessed 16 Oct.2019]
- Ohno, T. (1988). Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production. Portland, Oregon: Productivity Press, p.4.
- Groover, M. (2014). Work Systems: The Methods, Measurement and Management of Work. First ed. Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited, pp.4–6.
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