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Notable Industrial Engineers

  • Taiichi Ohno >

    Taiichi Ohno is credited with creating the just-in-time production system. He still feels today that the goal of Toyota is to shorten the time line, from the moment the customer places an order to the point where the cash is collected. He wants to further reduce that time line by removing non-value-added wastes. Read More
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Ali Shah

Ali Shah

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 13:06

ACCORDION ROLLER CONVEYOR

A roller conveyor with a flexible latticed frame which permits variation in length. (See ROLLER CONVEYOR.)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:51

ANNUAL WORTH

A uniform amount of money at the end of each and every period over the planning horizon, equivalent to all cash flows occurring over the planning horizon when interest is considered.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:50

CAPITAL RECOVERY WITH RETURN

The recovery of an original investment with interest. In the public utility industry frequently this is referred to as the revenue requirements approach.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:50

BREAK-EVEN POINT

(1) The rates of operations, output, or sales at which income will just cover costs. Discounting may or may not be used in making these calculations.

(2) The value of a parameter such that two courses of action result in an equal value for the figure of merit.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:49

COMPOUND INTEREST

(1) The type of interest that is periodically added to the amount of investment (or loan) so that subsequent interest is based on the cumulative amount.

(2) The interest charges under the condition that interest is charged on any previous interest earned in any time period, as well as on the principal.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:48

Henry Laurence Gantt

Henry Laurence Gantt's legacy to management is the Gantt Chart. Accepted as a commonplace project management tool today, it was an innovation of world-wide importance in the 1920s. But the Chart was not Gantt's only legacy; he was also a forerunner of the Human Relations School of management and an early spokesman for the social responsibility of business.


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Life and career

Henry Gantt (1861-1919) was born into a family of prosperous farmers in Maryland in 1861. His early years, however, were marked by some deprivation as the Civil War brought about changes to the family fortunes. He graduated from Johns Hopkins College and was a teacher before becoming a draughtsman in 1884 and qualifying as a mechanical engineer. From 1887 to 1893 he worked at the Midvale Steel Company in Philadelphia, where he became Assistant to the Chief Engineer (FW Taylor) and then Superintendent of the Casting Department.

Gantt and Taylor worked well in their early years together and Gantt followed Taylor to Simonds Rolling Company and on to Bethlehem Steel. From 1900 Gantt became well known in his own right as a successful consultant as he developed interests in broader, even conflicting, aspects of management. In 1917 he accepted a government commission to contribute to the war effort in the Frankford Arsenal and for the Emergency Fleet Corporation. He died in 1919.

Gantt's contribution

Gantt is often seen as a disciple of Taylor and a promoter of the scientific school of management. In his early career, the influence of Taylor - and Gantt's aptitude for problem-solving - resulted in attempts to address the technical problems of scientific management. Like Taylor, Gantt believed that it was only the application of scientific analysis to every aspect of work which could produce industrial efficiency, and that improvements in management came from eliminating chance and accidents. Gantt made four individual and notable contributions.

1. The task and bonus system

Gantt's Task and Bonus wage system was introduced in 1901 as a variation on Taylor's differential piece-rate system. With Gantt's system, the employee received a bonus in addition to his regular day rate if he accomplished the task for the day; he would still receive the day rate even if the task was not completed, whereas Taylor's piece-rate system penalised employees for sub-standard performance. As a result of introducing Gantt's system, which enabled workers to earn a living while learning to increase their efficiency, production often more than doubled. This convinced Gantt that concern for the worker and employee morale was one of the most important factors in management, and led him eventually to part company from Taylor on the fundamentals of scientific management.

2. The perspective of the worker

Gantt realised that his system offered little incentive to do more than just meet the standard. He subsequently modified it to pay according to time allowed, plus a percentage of that time if the task were completed in that time or less. Hence a worker could receive three hours pay for doing a two-hour job in two hours or less. But here Gantt brought in an innovation, by paying the foreman a bonus if all the workers met the required standard. This constituted one of the earliest recorded attempts to reward the foreman for teaching workers to improve the way they worked. In Work, Wages and Profits Gantt wrote:

'Whatever we do must be in accord with human nature. We cannot drive people; we must direct their development....the general policy of the past has been to drive; but the era of force must give way to that of knowledge, and the policy of the future will be to teach and lead, to the advantage of all concerned'.

Gantt was interested in an aspect of industrial education which he called the 'habits of industry' - habits of industriousness and co-operation, doing work to the best of one's ability, and pride in the quality as well as the quantity of work.

From his experience as a teacher, Gantt hoped that his bonus system would help to convert the foreman from an overseer and driver of workers to a helper and teacher of subordinates.

3. The chart

Gantt's Bar Chart started as a humble but effective mechanism for recording the progress of workers towards the task standard. A daily record was kept for each worker - in black, if he met the standard, in red, if he didn't. This expanded into further charts on quantity of work per machines, quantity of work per worker, cost control and other subjects.

It was whilst grappling with the problem of tracking all the various tasks and activities of government departments on the war effort in 1917, that Gantt realised he should be scheduling on the basis of time and not on quantities. His solution was a bar chart which showed how work was scheduled over time through to its completion. This enabled management to see, in graphic form, how well work was progressing, and indicated when and where action would be necessary to keep on time.

Gantt Charts have been applied to all kinds of projects to illustrate how scheduling may be best achieved. To illustrate a Gantt Chart we take the mini-project of redecorating an office with the steps of:

a) establishing the terms of reference and standards of quality, cost and time
b) informing all appropriate personnel and customers
c) arranging alternative accommodation
d) preparing the office
e) redecorating.

The Gantt Chart provided a graphic means of planning and controlling work and led to its modern variation - PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique).

4. The social responsibility of business

After the death of Taylor in 1917, Gantt seemed to distance himself further from the core principles of scientific management and extended his management interests to the function of leadership and the role of the firm itself. As his thinking developed, he believed increasingly that management had obligations to the community at large, and that the profitable organisation had a duty towards the welfare of society.

In Organizing for Work, he argued that there was a conflict between profits and service, and that the businessman who says that profits are more important than the service he renders 'has forgotten that his business system had a foundation in service, and as far as the community is concerned has no reason for existence except the service it can render.' These concerns led him to assert that: 'the business system must accept its social responsibility and devote itself primarily to service, or the community will ultimately make the attempt to take it over in order to operate it in its own interest.'

Gantt was hugely influenced by the events in Russia in 1917 and, in fear that big business was sacrificing service to profit, he began to attack the profit system itself, calling for public service corporations to ensure service to the community.

In perspective

Gantt was a prolific writer and speaker. He addressed the American Society of Mechanical Engineers on a number of occasions. One of his papers - Training Workmen in Habits of Industry and Co-operation (1908) - has been noted by several commentators as giving a unique insight into the human relations dimension of management at a time when scientific management was at its peak.

His approach to the foreman as teacher marks him as an early contributor to human behavioural thought in a line which stretches back to Owen and forward with Mayo to the present day. His approach to the duty of the firm towards society also singles him out as one of the earliest spokesmen on the social responsibility of business. But it is as the inventor of the Gantt Chart that he will be remembered.

It has been suggested that his thinking became somewhat vague shortly before his death, as he began to situate the work of the firm in a broader, national and political context. It seems that there was a struggle in his later years between service and appropriate rewards on the one hand and socialist control policies on the other.

Gantt never profited from his enduring innovation, and his books are illustrated with examples of charts showing 'work in progress' rather than the lateral project bar chart with which we are more familiar today. He did receive the Distinguished Service Medal from the government, but it was a member of Gantt's consulting firm, Wallace Clark, who popularised the idea of the Gantt Chart in a book which was translated into eight languages.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:46

Frank Bunker Gilbreth

A mechanical engineer and an early member of the ASME, Frank Gilbreth is considered by many to be the Father of Management Engineering.

Born in Fairfield, ME, on July 7, 1868, Gilbreth broke into the construction industry as a bricklayer shortly after his high school graduation. In the course of his work, Gilbreth observed that each bricklayer approached his job differently, some seemingly more efficient than others. He then began analyzing their motions to determine which approach to bricklaying was the best. Hence, his pioneering work in motion analysis and how it was applied to the workforce was under way. Over the years he developed many improvements in bricklaying. He invented a scaffold that was easily adjusted to allow the worker to be at the most advantageous level at all times. He created a system whereby bricks were stacked on the scaffold in such a manner that the worker could easily pick up a brick in one hand and mortar in the other. As a result, his improvements reduced the number of motions made in laying a brick from 18 to 4 ½, making a dramatic increase in worker productivity.

Gilbreth learned every trade in the construction business and advanced to superintendent without the typical three years of apprentice work. At the age of 27, Gilbreth started his own contracting firm, where he patented many inventions, including a concrete mixer and concrete conveyor system. He adopted the slogan "Speed Work" for his company and expressed his goals as the elimination of waste, the conservation of ability, and the reduction of cost. He was lauded for the application of these principles in the rapid construction of the Augustus Lowell Laboratory of Electrical Engineering for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His company was involved in a variety of construction projects, including dams, canals, houses, factory buildings, and an industrial facility. He eventually expanded his business to England.

Gilbreth had the good fortune to meet Lillian Evelyn Moller and they married in 1904. In addition to raising 12 children and being the subject of the Hollywood movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, they became one of the great husband-wife teams of science and engineering. Together, they collaborated on the development of micromotion study as an engineering and management technique and introduced the application of psychology to industrial management. They saw the need to improve worker satisfaction, which would in turn improve overall job performance and worker efficiency. Gilbreth designed systems to ease worker fatigue and increase productivity by studying each movement a worker made, and in doing so, document the best way to perform the task. They also considered the physical comfort of the worker and their innovations in office furniture led to the study of ergonomics.

In 1907, Gilbreth met engineer and inventor Frederick Winslow Taylor and became a proponent of the Taylor System of time study. Frank and Lillian were instrumental in the creating the Taylor Society. In 1912, the Gilbreths left the construction industry to focus their efforts on scientific management consulting. They broke with Taylor in 1914 and formed their own scientific management company with the intent to focus on the human element of management as well as the technical. They felt Taylor's "stop-watch" approach was primarily concerned with reducing process times whereas the Gilbreths focused on making processes more efficient by reducing the motions involved. The Gilbreths continued their micromotion studies in other fields, pioneering the use of motion pictures for studying various aspects of work and workers.

In the early months of World War I, Gilbreth studied industrial processes and machinery in Germany. As wounded soldiers began returning home, Gilbreth applied his principles to improving surgical procedures and was the first to use the motion-picture in the operating room for educational purposes. He was also the first to propose that a surgical nurse serve as a "caddy" to the surgeon by handing surgical instruments to the surgeon during a procedure. He also helped rehabilitate injured soldiers by developing ways to help them manage their daily activities.

In 1920, ASME instituted its Management Division, which Gilbreth had helped to establish. He became one of the most widely known engineers in the U.S. and Europe and reaped financial rewards and many professional honors. He suggested the inaugural international management congress that was held in Prague in 1924. He was stricken with a heart attack shortly after the conference and died on June 14, 1924, while traveling from his home in Montclair, NJ, to New York City.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:38

Frederick Winslow Taylor

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 Electic in the 1920s, moved management theory from early time-and-motion studies to the latest total quality control ideas.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:37

Is Industrial Engineering Right For You

Industrial engineering is a suitable career for anyone who enjoys problem solving and finding not just any solution, but the best one. Math, science, statistics, and programming skills are heavily emphasized, so it is important to excel in these areas. Industrial engineering also suits those who like to think outside of the box and use their creativity. Initiative, leadership skills, discipline, diligence, and people skills all make an industrial engineer successful.

On the other hand, if your math and science abilities are lacking or you are uninterested in those subjects, industrial engineering is probably not for you.

If you lack attention to detail, you may also find this career to be out of your comfort zone. Furthermore, if you do not desire to hold a leadership or management role, you may fail to grow in your career, as many industrial engineers eventually get promoted to such positions.

Besides playing an important role in giving companies a competitive edge, industrial engineering can be exciting and rewarding.

1. The Field Is Broad
Industrial engineering is an exceptionally broad field, which means you will not be stuck doing the same thing day-in and day-out for the next 30 to 40 years. Besides being able to switch roles within an industry, you can try out a different industry if you desire a change.
For instance, if you start your career in manufacturing but decide later that your real passion is healthcare, there is certainly a place for you in the healthcare industry.

If you are working on streamlining processes, but find your real talent lies in working with people, you'll fit right into a position within project management.

2. Pay Is Exceptional
Currently, the average starting salary of an entry-level industrial engineer is between $55,000 and $65,000. Furthermore, your salary will continue to rise throughout your years of employment. The average salary of industrial engineers as of May 2010 was $78,450, with the top 10% earning more than $112,000 a year. Even the lowest 10% earn close to $50,000, which is above the $44,410 average salary of all occupations.

3. Career Offers Movement
Once an industrial engineer gets some experience, it is not uncommon to be promoted to a managerial position. In fact, for someone whose ultimate goal is to get into management, industrial engineering offers a quick and easy pathway.
While industrial engineers receive similar business training as business students, they have a leg up due to their additional math, science, and technology training. Furthermore, industrial engineers often complete summer internships, which also make them more marketable and desirable to employers, and they also frequently minor in business administration or sales to complement their major. Many industrial engineers round out their education by earning an MBA, either directly after their bachelor's degree or after a few years of experience.

4. Demand Is High
Due to the wide range of services that industrial engineers provide, it only makes sense that the number of available jobs would continue to grow. With so many businesses looking to cut costs, the hiring of an industrial engineer pays for itself, thus making it a great career field for the future.
With nearly 203,000 employed in this field mid-2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this number to continue to grow at a rate of 14% over the next decade – faster than the average of all other occupations. Regardless of the overall state of the economy, companies will always have a need for industrial engineers to continually help reduce costs and improve processes.

5. Degrees Are Available
While not every college offers a degree in industrial engineering, they are becoming more prolific. Accredited degree programs are now available at more than 70 schools nationwide, with Georgia Institute of Technology ranked at the top of the pack.
When choosing a college to attend, there is a good chance that you'll consider one with an industrial engineering program. Furthermore, some trade schools, such as the Milwaukee School of Engineering, do offer industrial engineering programs, so it is not necessary to attend a traditional university to get an accredited industrial engineering education.

6. Scholarships Are Available
College scholarships are available for industrial engineering students through various organizations, the most notable being the Institute for Industrial Engineers, which offers several scholarships each year. Other organizations offering scholarships to industrial engineering students include the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Association of Iron and Steel Technology Foundation.

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