What is Industrial Engineering?
Industrial Engineering is an engineering based management discipline dealing with human effort engineering and system efficiency engineering.
It emerged out of the management practice by engineers in engineering related departments of manufacturing, fabrication and construction companies.
Frederick Taylor, Frank Gilbreth, and Harrington Emerson, all engineers and pioneers of industrial engineering found a shortcoming in the practice of management of their time. Management meant line management and each manager had a certain number reporting to him and he was handling multiple activities related to the management process all by himself. This practice was giving rise to significant waste of production resources as the managers had no expertise or time to study, develop and create a science of use of production resources. Planning and control were not proper as there was no good data for planning.
Frederick Taylor and Harrington Emerson advocated that line management must be assisted by staff management specialists who study resource usage in production processes and systems, develop scientific models and theories and provide data and models for planning.
The methods, tools and techniques developed by Taylor, Gilbreth and Harrington Emerson gave significant waste reduction or efficiency improvement benefits to companies and they became part of the discipline of industrial engineering.
Industrial engineering is different from the other engineering disciplines as it focuses not on creating new machines in a field of engineering, but on efficient utilization of materials/resources, equipments, energy and manpower in production processes. Industrial engineers evaluate and improve efficiency of production systems that employ outputs of multiple engineering disciplines like civil, mechanical, electrical, electronics and information technology.
Industrial engineering is a part of management discipline, but it is a specialized function that provides its input into the managerial process as a staff service.
Motion analysis and design, work station design, ergonomics, comfort, safety and health studies, work measurement, and job evaluation and wage incentives are some of the techniques of industrial engineering that are related to human resources used in production and distribution systems.
Methods efficiency engineering in the areas of production, inspection, purchase, stores, maintenance, customer service, transportation, warehousing, sales persons’ travel, Value engineering of products, use of statistics and Operations Research, engineering economics etc. are the techniques used to improve the efficiency or to eliminate waste in processes and systems.
Industrial engineering can be simply explained as Human Effort Engineering and System Efficiency Engineering.
It is a strategic management function taking care of the total enterprise cost and therefore industrial engineers are appropriately termed profit engineers. They increase the profit of companies and businesses by decreasing the enterprise cost by identifying and eliminating waste in proposed systems, methods and budgets.
Going, the person who wrote the first book on Industrial Engineering discipline in 1911 identified the three key specialties of Industrial Engineering: Efficiency, Human Element and Economic Aspect – the profit of the business.