Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fundamentals of Industrial Engineering

Review of the Chapter 1.5 Fundamentals of Industrial Engineering in Maynard's Handbook of Industrial Enginering, 5th Edition. List of all chapters of the book is available in:
This chapter was written by Philip E. Hicks.


Efficient production system design and efficiency improvement of production systems is the aim of industrial engineering. This fact is brought out by Hicks in the following statement.

A production system is essentially the sum of its individual operations. Therefore, it follows that if one wants a production system to be efficient then its individual operations must be efficient. Working from a bottom-up micro perspective, one approach is to simply review all individual operations to make them the best they can be.  One reason such an approach offers considerable opportunity for improvement today is that it has been often overlooked while the search for the single “silver bullet” macro solution occurs in the front office or the boardroom. In many firms today individual workstation cycle times can be reduced by one-third to one-half of their present average cycle times by implementing a short list of modest improvements in these workstations.


Hicks has given following areas as fundamental areas of industrial engineering



Methods Engineering

Work Measurement


Facilities Planning and Design


Material Handling






Inventory Control

Quality Control



Team Based

Continuous Improvement



According to me operations management is not any more an area reserved for industrial engineering. Operations management has evolved as an independent subject area within the discipline of business management and industrial management. Operations control is a sub-area within operations management.


Industrial engineering has to focus on two areas as its specialty – Human effort engineering and System efficiency engineering. By inserting the term efficiency and writing the first area as OPERATIONS EFFICIENY ANALYSIS AND DESIGN will be make it more clear to the practitioners as well as users the role of industrial engineers. Work measurement is an exclusive area of industrial engineering and we need to recognize that in methods engineering once again functional engineering of the method belongs to production engineers and only human effort and efficiency engineering are the areas of industrial engineering. Ergonomics is the science used by industrial engineering in human effort engineering.


A book by Hicks


1. Hicks, Philip E., Industrial Engineering and Management:A New Perspective, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1994. (book)

Original knol - http://knol.google.com/k/narayana-rao/fundamentals-of-industrial-engineering/ 2utb2lsm2k7a/ 1116

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