Monday, April 9, 2012

Human Effort - The Primary and Core Focus of Industrial Engineering

The illustrious pioneers of Industrial Engineering Frederick Taylor and Frank Gilbreth made their contributions in the area of improving human effort. Taylor developed the idea of Time Study based elements of work done by operators and Gilbreth developed motion study and also came out with principles of motion economy. Gilbreth also recognized the issue of fatigue and did studies on the topic.

Peter Drucker recognized the role of Taylor and Gilbreth in designing the work done by operators and improving the output from man-machine systems. 'At the actual work spot, management of an operator or human element is done according to industrial engineering or scientific management only"  asserted Peter Drucker.

Has industrial engineering ignored its core focus? Human factors engineering which focuses on human usability evaluation of various products might not be started by industrial engineers. It may have come to IE discipline as an accompaniment to the IE's interesting human effort engineering. Among engineers, IEs know a lot about human element, and human factors engineering can gravitate to them. So human factors engineering section can be a part of IE department and some IEs could have taken up human factors engineering. That is how human factors engineering became a component of IE curriculums. But human effort engineering and human factors engineering are different. Human effort engineering needs to be developed independently of human factors engineering by IE departments. Both have human sciences anatomy, physiology, psychology, and sociology as the foundation sciences but the engineering foundation is different. Human effort engineering is concerned with fabrication, construction, production and operating processes where human factors engineering has product design and related issues as its focus. Human effort engineering has its focus increased output, comfort, safety, health from the man machine system. Human factors engineering has ease of use items by consumers as its main focus.

IIE, Institute of Industrial Engineers has its punchline as "Global Association of Productivity and Efficiency Professions." It is important that it highlights its primary core focus of human effort also in its messages. No doubt efficiency is a core focus of IE discipline. But human effort is much more important in terms of the object with which industrial engineering is working. He is designing human effort. Based on the insights that IE gained from its work in the human effort engineering, IE extended its reach to system efficiency. IE is now a combination of human effort engineering and system efficiency engineering.

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