Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Evolution of Industrial Engineering - 1908 to 2017 - Elementary Production Rate Fixing to Productivity Science, Engineering and Management

The motivation to write this article is provided by the paper, Sahney VK, Evolution of hospital industrial engineering: from scientific management to total quality management.
J Soc Health Syst. 1993;4(1):3-17.

1880 to 1907 - The Foundation for Industrial Engineering 

Need for Reduction of Cost of Production - Engineering for Productivity - Motivating the Operators, Supervisors, Engineers and Managers to Participate in Cost Reduction and Productivity Improvement

1880 - First ASME President's  Inaugural Address - Need for Productivity Improvement

The concern for management and productivity issues  occupied the attention of the first ASME president. Thus ASME's attention to the topic is there right from its founding . In fact, R.H. Thurston  the first ASME president, in his inaugural address, included productivity improvement  and  economy among the objects of the society in his inaugural address. 

"We are now called upon to do our part in the work so well begun by our predecessors, and so splendidly carried on by our older colleagues during the past generation. We have for our work the cheapening and improvement of all textile fabrics, the perfecting of metallurgical processes, the introduction of the electric light, the increase of facilities for rapid and cheap transportation, the invention of new and more efficient forms of steam and gas engines, of means for relieving woman from drudgery, and for shortening the hours of labor for hard-working men, the increase in the productive power of all mechanical devices, aiding in the great task of recording and disseminating useful knowledge; and ours is the duty to discover facts and to deduce laws bearing upon every application of mechanical science and art in field, workshop, school, or household."  - Thuston

H.R. Towne (1886), in his" The Engineer as Economist,  advocated that engineers can learn manaement and economics/accounting to provide a unified management service well coordinated with engineering. He also highlighted the issue of reduction of cost of production in that paper.

James Gunn is given the credit for using the term "industrial engineer" first in an article. He wanted a new engineer to emerge "production" or "industrial". The term industrial engineer appealed to some. Subsequently the course in industrial engineering was also started. Even production engineering emerged as a separate branch that focused much more on the technical function of creating process plans, instructing and training operators. The focus of industrial engineering became productivity, efficiency and cost reduction.

Evolution of Industrial Engineering - James Gunn, Towne, Taylor, Diemer, Going, Barnes

Shop management paper/book has the objective low cost product and high income employees. The focus of the book is achieving low cost of production and high income provision to employees (from the existing position at that time) in engineering production shops. Industrial engineering became the subject that was developed to educate and train engineers in a specialized subject dealing with productivity and cost reduction. Very quickly it became a full fledged four year degree based curriculum as productivity and cost reduction are important dimensions of engineering organizations.

In the course of evolution, emphasis on redesign of the products and processes using engineering knowledge to provide cost reduction and productivity became less. This led to industrial engineering being labelled as imaginary engineering (a branch wherein engineering is nonexistent). The erosion of engineering focus also resulted in IE's narrow reach. Industrial engineering is applicable in all engineering branches that have engineering products or services and processes producing those products and services. Therefore, industrial engineering needs to be used in civil engineering, electrical engineering, electronics engineering, biomedical engineering and biotechnology. Engineering is an essential knowledge discipline in the world and industrial engineering has to focus on all engineering branches and improve productivity.

Prof. Narayana Rao, brought out this shortcoming clearly in a paper and also proposed principles of industrial engineering.  Principles of industrial engineering were derived from Principles of Scientific Management of Taylor. The principles of reflect the current concerns and areas of focus of the discipline. 


Industrial Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, 1908-1988
Benjamin W. Niebel
Penn State - Industrial engineering - 146 pages

The industrial engineering program at Penn State is founded by Hugo Diemer, a pioneer in the field. . Diemer is named the first head of the department.

1909 – The Department of Industrial Engineering is officially established.

Industrial engineering :
devoted to the interests of works managers, engineers and superintendents. Vol. 1

1910 – The department graduates its first two industrial engineering students.
https://www.ime.psu.edu/department/history.aspx  (Accessed on 13 July 2019)

Industrial Engineering - A brochure by Clinton E. Woods, New York, 2010

Principles of Industrial Engineering by Charles Buxton Going published.

What is Industrial Engineering? Answer by C.B. Going in 1911



Emerson joined  other progressive engineers in founding the Society of Industrial Engineers in 1917.

Industrial engineering,
a handbook of useful information for managers, engineers, superintendents, designers, draftsmen and others engaged in constructive work,
by William M. Barr


Future of Industrial Engineering, by C.E. Knoeppel,  SIE,

In 1920, the ASME council approved and adopted the First Report of the Committee of Aims and Organizations with L.C. Marburg as Chairman, which included the statement: …that Industrial Engineering is a major subject for consideration by the Society and shall be placed on par with all major subjects.


Boeing changed the name of Factory Cost Accounting Department to Industrial Engineering in 1945.

Industrial Engineering Scholars (Academic, Researching and Practicing Industrial Engineers)

Henry Towne
F.W. Taylor  - Scientific Management
Frank Gilbreth - Motion Study
Lilian Gilbreth
Harrington Emerson - Principles of Efficiency
Henri Gantt
Alan Mogensen - Involvement of Frontline Operators in Work Simplification and Improvement
R.L. Barnes - Motion Study
Marvin Mundel - Time and Motion Study
H.B. Maynard - Method Study,Operation Analysis, MTM, MoST, HandBook
Shigeo Shingo - SMED, Poka Yoke
David Sumanth - Productivity Management
D. Scott Sink - Productivity Management
Gavriel Salvendy - Handbook
Yamashina - Total Industrial Engineering
Narayana Rao, K.V.S.S. - Principles of Industrial Engineering, Functions and Focus Areas of Industrial Engineering, Machine Work Study

Updated on  25 December 2019,  13 July 2019, 8 December 2017,

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