Monday, January 7, 2013

Focus of Industrial Engineering - Badiru's Questions in 1994 - Efficiency the Answer

Badiru and Baxi in the article "Industrial engineering education for the 21st century",
Badiru, Adedeji B; Baxi, Herschel J. Industrial Engineering 26. 7 (Jul 1994): 66 made the following observations

IE is quickly losing its identity as a value-adding profession. The basic cause of this problem is that many IEs graduate without resolving the question of identity related to the following questions:

* What separates an IE from other engineers? and

* What contribution does the profession make to an organization?"

The root of this identity problem lies in the structured and isolated approach of various IE courses.

The academic curriculum rarely emphasizes the fundamental philosophy of IE itself. That philosophy is a holistic approach to design, development and implementation of integrated systems of men, machines and materials. 

Industry measures performance in terms of real contributions to organizational goals.

Many young graduates mistakenly perceive their expected roles as being part of the management personnel, having little or no direct association with shop-floor activities. Such views impede hands-on experience and prevent the identification of root causes of industrial problems.

Many new graduates take a long time to become productive in developing solutions that require multidisciplinary approaches.

Industrial engineering education for the 21st century: IE
Badiru, Adedeji B; Baxi, Herschel J. Industrial Engineering 26. 7 (Jul 1994): 66.

What is the solution to these observations?

Clear answers to the two questions;

* What separates an IE from other engineers? and

* What contribution does the profession make to an organization?"

* What separates an IE from other engineers? 

The uniqueness of IE is the special focus on human effort and economic aspect of engineering. Industrial engineering is a management activity that originated in managing engineering activities. Every branch of engineering has associated industrial engineering activity. IE curriculums should provide specialization in various branches of Engineering under IE degree. May be a student will take two or even three engineering branches as elective specialisation in his IE studies.

In management IE is a staff activity and supports the line manager of department in improving the efficiency of the department. IE can be a position assisting the CEO and Chief Industrial Engineering has to be a coveted position of each IE graduate.

* What contribution does the profession make to an organization?"

The contribution of the IE departament or function in an organization is improvement in efficiency and consequent reduction in cost. IE as a service activity, staff activity or overhead activity must be able to  improve the efficiency and reduce costs every period and every year. They have to be become the focal point of the cost reduction initiatives in the company and they have to independently monitor the technology environment relevant to their organization to identify cost reduction technology and method opportunities. Simulataneously they should be able independently design some in-house  method that give them cost reduction advantage compared to their competitors.

IEs have to trained in their multiple techniques so that they can use any one of them or an appropriate combination of them to improve the systems of their organization

Add to the observations of Badiru and Baxi observations of Weiss

Observations, based on 60 years of success, by the president of H.B. Maynard & Co. Inc.: IE
Torrey, Eric E. Industrial Engineering26. 12 (Dec 1994): 60.

Roger Weiss, president of H B Maynard & Co. Inc.,


One of the consistent problems that the IE profession faces is the inability of IEs to really sell the value of their profession within the company.

I told a prospective client, a couple of weeks ago, that they needed to hire a couple of industrial engineers into their company...  And, when I told him a good industrial engineer would return their salary 10 times, he just looked at me in disbelief and said, 'Well, maybe that is the first year.'

They did not understand was they had so much latent potential.

And again, the focus was all on the direct labor. He said, 'How many people can we get out of here?' I said, 'Is the issue getting people out or getting product out?' It was not a matter of downsizing, it was a matter of getting more with what they had. And the benefits of that are fairly substantial.

"I guess it is that over the years (IEs) have not succeeded in selling their worth, or measuring their own worth. It is kind of ironic. People in the measurement business should be able to measure their own worth and prove to the company that they are actually saving them money."

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