Wednesday, December 26, 2012


 Review Article


About Review Knols on Articles in Maynard's Handbook

This article is a knol in the tradition of review proposed by knol.
After reading a knol you can present your view in a review on the knol.
I am trying to summarise the article in the Maynard's handbook and simultaneously express my views regarding the topic. I advocate certain changes in the focus and practice of industrial engineering and I wish to bring out these ideas of mine in these review knols.
These knols will be continuously revised by me in response to comments made by visitors.
Review knol on
(Maynard's Industrial Engineering Handbook)

Louis A. Martin-Vega
National Science Foundation, Arlington,Virginia
Louis A. Martin-Vega, Ph.D., P.E., is currently the director of the Division of Design,Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation at the National Science Foundation in Arlington,Virginia.

He is on leave from Lehigh University. He is a professor and former chairman of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. Prior to joining Lehigh, he held the Lockheed Professorship at Florida Institute of Technology. Martin-Vega’s research and consulting interests are in the areas of production and manufacturing  systems. 




The purpose of industrial engineering is human effort engineering and systems efficiency engineering (Narayana Rao).

Historical events in industrial engineering are covered in detail in Emerson and Naehring,  Saunders, Shultz , Nadler , Pritsker, and Turner et al.  Since the history of industrial engineering is strongly linked to the history of manufacturing, Hopp and Spearman  is a  particularly interesting reference that  has relevant exposition of the history of American manufacturing.

Early Origins  of Engineering

There are centuries-old examples of early engineering practice and accomplishments, such as the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Roman construction projects but, it was not until the eighteenth century that the first engineering schools appeared in France.The need for greater efficiency in the design and analysis of bridges, roads, and buildings resulted in principles of early engineering concerned primarily with these topics being taught first in military academies (military engineering). The application of these principles to nonmilitary or civilian endeavors led to the term civil engineering. Interrelated advancements in the fields of physics and mathematics laid the groundwork for the development and application of mechanical principles.The need for improvements in the design and analysis of materials and devices such as pumps and engines resulted in the emergence of mechanical engineering as a distinct field in the early nineteenth century. Similar circumstances, albeit for different technologies, can be ascribed to the emergence and development of electrical engineering and chemical engineering. 
As has been the case with all these fields, industrial engineering  also developed initially from empirical evidence and understanding and then from research to develop a more scientific base.

Empirical Roots and Early Thinkers

The empirical roots of the profession date back to the Industrial Revolution, which began in England during the mid-eighteenth century.
The concept of a production system, which lies at the core of modern industrial engineering practice and research, had its genesis in the factories created as a result of innovations in industrial revolution.

The concepts presented by Adam Smith in his treatise The Wealth of Nations also lie at the foundation of what eventually became the theory and practice of industrial engineering. His writings on concepts such as the division of labor and the “invisible hand” of capitalism served to motivate many of the technological innovators of the Industrial Revolution to establish and implement factory systems. Examples of these developments include Arkwright’s implementation of management control systems to regulate production and the output of factory workers, and the well-organized factory that Watt, together with an associate, Matthew Boulton, built to produce steam engines.

An early contributor to concepts that eventually became associated with industrial engineering was Charles Babbage. The findings that he made as a result of visits to factories in England and the United States in the early 1800s were documented in his book entitled On the Economy of Machinery and Manufacturers. The book includes subjects such as the time required for learning a particular task, the effects of subdividing tasks into smaller and less detailed elements, the time and cost savings associated with changing from one task to another, and the advantages to be gained by repetitive tasks. In his classic example on the manufacture of straight pins, Babbage extends the work of Adam Smith on the division of labor by showing that money could be saved by assigning lesser-paid workers (in those days women and children) to lesser-skilled operations and restricting the higher-skilled, higher paid workers to only those operations requiring higher skill levels. Babbage also discusses notions related to wage payments, issues related to present-day profit sharing plans, and even ideas associated with the organization of labor and labor relations

Babbage’s ideas got further support by the efforts of Eli Whitney and Simeon North’s innovation of interchangeable parts. Under Whitney’s system, the individual parts were mass-produced to tolerances tight enough to enable their use in any finished product. The division of labor called for by Adam Smith could now be carried out to an extent never before achievable, with individual workers producing single parts rather than completed products. The result was a significant reduction in the need for specialized skills on the part of the workers—a result that eventually led to the industrial environment, which became the object of study of Frederick W. Taylor, the person who was given the honor being name founder of industrial engineering or father of industrial engineering.

Pioneers of Industrial Engineering

Frederick Taylor, Frank Gilbreth and Harrington Emerson have to be given the principal credit for giving birth to industrial engineering discipline. Taylor and Gilbreth worked in the area of human effort engineering that promotes efficiency in production systems. Emerson specifically worked on the efficiency dimension of systems.

Taylor and Scientific Management

One cannot presume to be well versed in the origins of industrial engineering without reading Taylor’s  books: Shop Management and The Principles of Scientific Management. An engineer to the core, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and developed several inventions for which he received patents. His engineering accomplishments would have been sufficient to guarantee him a place in history. His contributions to management that resulted in a set of principles and concepts  which were considered by Drucker to be “possibly the most powerful as well as lasting contribution America has made to Western thought since the Federalist Papers.”
The core of Taylor’s system consisted of breaking down the production process into its component parts and improving the efficiency of each. He honed manual tasks to maximum efficiency by examining each component separately and eliminating all false, slow, and useless movements. Mechanical work was accelerated through the use of jigs, fixtures, and other devices—many invented by Taylor himself. In essence, Taylor was trying to do for work units what Whitney had done for material units: standardize them and make them interchangeable.
Improvement of work efficiency under the Taylor system was based on the analysis and improvement of work methods, reduction of the time required to carry out the work, and the development of work standards. With an abiding faith in the scientific method, Taylor’s contribution to the development of “time study” was his way of seeking the same level of predictability and precision for manual tasks that he had achieved with his formulas for metal cutting.
Taylor’s interest in what today we classify as the area of work measurement was also motivated by the information that studies of this nature could supply for planning activities. In this sense, his work laid the foundation for a broader “science of planning”: a science totally empirical in nature but one that he was able to demonstrate could significantly improve productivity.
To Taylor, scientific management was a philosophy based not only on the scientific study of work but also on the scientific selection, education, and development of workers. His classic experiments in shoveling coal, which he initiated at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1898, not only resulted in development of standards and methods for carrying out this task, but also led to the creation of tool and storage rooms as service departments, the development of inventory and ordering systems, the creation of personnel departments for worker selection, the creation of training departments to instruct workers in the standard methods, recognition of the importance of the layout of manufacturing facilities to ensure minimum movement of people and materials, the creation of departments for organizing and planning production, and the development of incentive payment systems to reward those workers able to exceed standard outputs. Any doubt about Taylor’s impact on the birth and development of industrial engineering should be erased by simply correlating the previously described functions with many of the fields of work and topics that continue to play a major role in the practice of the profession and its educational content at the university level.

Taylor contributed technological progress, a concept used in Economic Theory of Growth to refer to increase in output from the same amount of resources. Taylor's human effort engineering resulted in the increased output from same manpower resources. 

Frank Gilbreth

Frank Gilbreth’s application of the scientific method to the laying of bricks produced results that were as revolutionary as those of Taylor’s shoveling experiment. He  extended the concepts of scientific management to the identification, analysis, and measurement of fundamental motions involved in performing work. By applying the motion-picture camera to the task of analyzing motions he was  able to categorize the elements of human motions into 18 basic elements or therbligs. This development marked a distinct step forward in the analysis of human work, for the first time permitting analysts to design jobs with knowledge of the time required to perform the job. In many respects these developments also marked the beginning of the much broader field of human factors or ergonomics.

Lillian Gilbreth, wife of Frank Gilbreth,  provided significant insight and contributions to the human issues associated with their studies. Lillian’s book, The Psychology of Management (based on her doctoral thesis in psychology at Brown University), advanced the premise that because of its emphasis on scientific selection and training, scientific management offered ample opportunity for individual development, while traditional management stifled such development by concentrating power in a central figure. Known as the “first lady of engineering,” she was the first woman to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is generally credited with bringing to the industrial engineering profession a concern for human welfare and human relations that was not present in the work of many pioneers of the scientific management movement.

Harrington Emerson - The efficiency focus

Emerson became a champion of efficiency independent of Taylor and summarized his approach in his book, the Twelve Principles of Efficiency.

Emerson, who had reorganized the workshops of the Santa Fe Railroad, testified during the hearings of the Interstate Commerce Commission concerning a proposed railroad rate hike in 1910 to 1911 that scientific management could save “a million dollars a day.” Because he was the only “efficiency engineer” with firsthand experience in the railroad industry, his statement carried enormous weight and served to emblazon scientific management on the national consciousness.

Later in his career he became particularly interested in selection and training of employees and is also credited with originating the term dispatching in reference to shop floor control, a phrase that undoubtedly derives from his railroad experience.

Efficiency Society organized by Emerson later merged with Taylor Society to form Society for Advancement of Management.
To be developed further


Related Knols

Original post in Knol
Knol No. 538

1 comment:

  1. I read above information. It's true. Institute have give to theoretical knowledge with practical knowledge.

    Institute Management Solution