WHAT IS INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM ENGINEERING
From the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) http://www.iienet2.org/Default.aspx : “Industrial Engineering is concerned with the design, improvement, and installation of integrated systems of people, materials, equipment, and energy. It draws upon specialized knowledge and skill in the mathematical, physical, and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design to specify, predict and evaluate the results to be obtained from such systems.”
Industrial engineers figure out how to do things better. They engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity. They work to eliminate waste of time, money, materials, energy, and other commodities. This is why many industrial engineers end up being promoted into management positions.
Many people are misled by the term industrial engineer. It’s not just about manufacturing. It also encompasses service industries, with many IEs employed in entertainment industries, shipping and logistics businesses, and health care organizations.
Founder of Industrial Engineering was Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1915) (http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/fwt/taylor.html) Frederick Winslow Taylor devised a system he called scientific management, a form of industrial engineering that established the organization of work as in Ford’s assembly line. This discipline, along with the industrial psychology established by others at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric in the 1920s, moved management theory from early time-and-motion studies to the latest total quality control ideas.
Taylor, born in Philadelphia, prepared for college at Philips Academy in Exeter, N.H., and was accepted at Harvard. His eyesight failed and he became an industrial apprentice in the depression of 1873. At Exeter he was influenced by the classification system invented by Melvil Dewey in 1872 (Dewey Decimal System). He became in 1878 a machine shop laborer at Midvale Steel Company. In the following book he describes some of his promotions to gang-boss, foreman, and finally, chief engineer. He introduced time-motion studies in 1881 (with ideas of Frank B. and Lillian M. Gilbreth, strong personalities immortalized in books by their dozen children, such as Cheaper By the Dozen.) In 1883 he earned a degree by night study from Stevens Institute of Technology (which now archives his papers and has announced plans to put them online See http://www.lib.stevens-tech.edu/ –special collections). He became general manager of Manufacturing Investment Company, 1890, and then a consulting engineer to management.
Taylor’s ideas, clearly enunciated in his writings, were widely misinterpreted. Employers used time and motion studies simply to extract more work from employees at less pay. Unions condemned speedups and the lack of voice in their work that “Taylorism” gave them. Quality and productivity declined when his principles were simplistically instituted.
Modern management theorists, such as Edward Deming, often credit Taylor, however, with generating the principles upon which they act. Others, such as Juran, though, continue to denigrate his work. Modern theorists generally place more emphasis on worker input and teamwork than was usual in much of Taylor’s time. A careful reading of Taylor’s work will reveal that he placed the worker’s interest as high as the employer’s in his studies, and recognized the importance of the suggestion box, for example, in a machine shop.
Another inventor of Industrial Engineering was Frank Gilbreth (1868 – 1924) (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404707800.html). He is best known for his work with construction workers on the efficiency of motion. He developed many of the concepts and applications that are now part of modern management techniques.
Frank Bunker Gilbreth was born in Fairfield, Maine on July 7, 1868. His father died when Gilbreth was three, and his mother’s passion for education led her to move the family twice in search of the best schools; first to Andover, Massachusetts, and then to Boston. Dissatisfied with the grade school Gilbreth attended, she took him home and tutored him herself. He eventually graduated from English High School in Boston in 1885. Gilbreth passed the entrance exams to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he decided not to attend college and went straight into business.
Gilbreth began his career as a bricklayer’s apprentice. An attentive observer, he learned by watching the movements of veteran bricklayers that each one used motion in a different way, some more economically than others. It was here that Gilbreth became committed to his lifelong goal— finding “the one best way” of mastering any task. Gilbreth quickly learned every trade in the contracting business. Before long he was laying stone, estimating costs, working railway construction, and supervising. Gilbreth went to night school to learn mechanical drawing; he advanced to foreman and then to superintendent without the typical three years of apprentice work.
In 1903, in Boston, Gilbreth met Lillian Moller, a teacher with a strong professional drive that matched his. They began a twenty-year partnership with their marriage on October 19, 1904. Lillian Gilbreth was the force behind her husband’s career change—from construction to management. Together they became leaders in the new field of scientific industrial management. They wrote books and articles, lectured, and taught—while raising twelve children. He and his wife applied their management techniques to the running of their large household; two of their children would later write humorous accounts of their family life, Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes.
In 1908, Gilbreth published Field System, his first book. The book contained the ideas of the men he employed: he had gathered information by asking his workers to record exactly what they did during the course of the day and what they would recommend for improvement. Written for laborers, the book was the first of its kind, documenting daily organizational and functional practices in construction. It was also the first in a series of similar books by Gilbreth, in which he would provide specific information on work tasks, even using photographic details to show the positions of a worker’s feet during certain tasks.
As he integrated his work on the expediency of motion with his wife’s concentration on the psychology of the individual, Gilbreth grew less involved in the construction industry. He and his wife began to join their efforts in pursuit of the link between psychology and management, and together they established the fundamental place of psychology and education in effective management. In 1913 the Gilbreths started the Summer School of Scientific Management, which for four years was attended by academic and industry professionals from around the world. Contacts developed through the school gave Gilbreth an international consulting reputation
Some well-known Industrial System Engineering programs in the world: