Industrial Engineering Department and Operating Departments - Relation
Industrial engineering department is a service department. It is providing service to improve the productivity or efficiency of systems. Also it is providing services to improve comfort, safety and health of operators. The improvements brought in by the IE departments could be due to new methods developed in IE discipline, new technological advances in the machines, or new work practices recognized in the work place in IE studies, or new ideas that came out of various improvement projects.
Each improvement idea is absorbed by the operating department and over a period of time it becomes the routine operating practice. Operating managers can themselves train their workers in the modified methods and the necessity of industrial engineers will come down. So industrial engineers become free to choose new improvement projects. Industrial engineers work on project mode. So they can finish one project and take up another project. Even learning a new improvement method becomes a new project for IEs. Many OR models are being developed. Of course they may not be drastically new methods but are improvements to the existing models. IEs have to keep track of the new ideas in OR models to evaluate them for implementing in their operations. Many times one hears a complaint that the models are complex. But IEs are trained to understand the OR models. They cannot complain of complexity of a model to begin with. They have to assess the utility of the model to improve the operations and then try to simplify the model in their implementation exercise to the extent possible.
IEs will have push type projects as well as pull type projects. Push type projects are projects that IE department pitches to the operating managers as well as senior managers. They may be new techniques that are to be implemented in various departments of the company. Pull type projects emanate from the departments. As the operating managers realize the importance of new designs or redesign as they come to know the efficient working of similar departments in competitor companies, they undertake redesign and invite IEs to evaluate the proposed ways of working.
Successful completion of projects can only increase the trust that senior managers and operating managers place on IE department personnel. IE personnel must ensure that their contribution is audited and recognized. Such audited results will encourage the company managers to use their services further.
It is interesting to note that two major improvement programs came out of operating departments or their consultants, TQM and TPM.