Thursday, May 4, 2017

Design Thinking and Industrial Engineering



Do industrial engineers need design thinking?

Design Thinking for Managers
Design Thinking can do for organic growth and innovation what TQM did for quality.
http://nraombakc.blogspot.com/2013/08/design-thinking-for-managers.html


Industrial engineers redesign product and processes. Hence development in design process, design thinking is relevant for industrial engineers.

Today I came across an interersting article on design thinking.

NO PROCESS, JUST 4 TENETS OF DESIGN THINKING
Published on April 22, 2017 by Manoj Kothari, Director & Chief Design Strategist - Turian Labs on Linkedin.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/process-just-4-tenets-design-thinking-manoj-kothari

He emphasizes four points:  Empathic Inquiry, Abductive Reasoning, Visual Thinking or Creative Visualization and Iterative Prototyping.

Empathic inquiry is to go and stand in the posture of the users. Go and sit in the posture of the user. Understand the users' requirement from the their point of view. Go and use the item as they are using. Don't come with an ideal way of using it all the 8 hours or more a users uses an item. Understand why he does a thing the way he does it.

Aductive reasoning: Imagine various possibilities.

Visual thinking: Don't use only words to express. Use pictures and visuals.

Iterative prototyping - Once again don't limit yourself to picture or a design drawing. Convert it into prototype that can be seen as a 3D shape and handled.

I think industrial engineers have to accept all the four points and incorporate rate them into their design process.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Optimization Uses Existing Technologies Only

Optimization uses existing technologies only but combines them into a combination that maximizes output or profit or minimizes cost. When a firm is not optimizing its resource combination to produce maximum output of specified products, it is leaving money on the table.
If any component is improved in its function through technology change, there can be further improvement in the output of the optimized system. Invention of new alloys etc. are technological developments.


Industrial Engineering involves search for alternative engineering solutions that provide productivity and thereby cost reduction. Industrial engineering is not the same as optimization. Industrial engineering when doing product engineering understand the present design of the product (if using value analysis and engineering method, they do functional analysis of the components of the product) and come out with low cost value alternatives. The low cost value alternative ideas are engineering into components and product that is less costly but provides all the functions that the earlier design is providing. In the redesign of components/product industrial engineering use optimization.  Similarly in process industrial engineering, industrial engineers  record the process in appropriate charts (earlier 5 method flow process chart is used, now seven waste identifying process chart can be used) and analyze each step to come out with alternative engineering ideas that are incorporated into the process. Once again optimization is used make sure the most optimal combination is used at every step of the new technology.

In Industrial engineering, engineering alternatives come first and then optimization.
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Supply Chain Optimization versus Reinvention