Supply Chain Management : Industrial Engineering
The area of engineering that deals with developing, improving, implementing, and evaluating integrated systems that involve finances, information, knowledge, individuals, energy, processes, materials, and equipment is called industrial engineering. Those working in this field must draw upon the precepts of engineering synthesis and analysis, while also having a firm grounding in the social sciences, math, and the physical sciences.
Using this wide breadth of knowledge, industrial engineers are able to specify, predict, and evaluate what the results to be attained from such systems shall be. When working with lean manufacturing, an industrial engineer will be employed to eliminate aspects of the work process that might waste time, money, or other precious resources.
Other names for industrial engineering include systems engineering, manufacturing systems engineering, operations management, and production engineering. Depending on the final motives of the business, any one of these names for an “industrial engineer” might be employed. In the field of health care, industrial engineers might be referred to as health systems engineers, or belong to an “engineering management” department.
Industrial engineering differs from other fields of engineering, in that most fields of engineering apply to very specific fields, whereas industrial engineering can be applied to just about any discipline or industry. An industrial engineer might be employed, for example, to figure out a way to shorten lines for rides at a theme park. In the field of supply chain management, industrial engineering is a technique used to distribute products around the world. Industrial engineers are employed in the automotive industry to figure out ways how to make cheaper and better running cars. Computer simulation tools, such as discrete event simulation, are usually employed by industrial engineers in order to solve problems relating to the trade.
At the same time, the field of industrial engineering is so all encompassing that at times it can get confusing for the layman to know exactly what an industrial engineer does. After all, industrial engineering does not apply simply to manufacturing, as it once did. Rather, industrial engineering has grown to encompass such disparate fields as systems engineering, operations research, quality engineering, process engineering, and ergonomics.
Depending on their field of expertise, industrial engineers might do a number of things in order to make their work process more efficient, their products of higher quality and easier to manufacture, as well as increase the productivity of their efforts.
Industrial Engineering Fields of Expertise
Ever since Pennsylvania State University created the world’s first Industrial Engineering program in the early 20th century, the trade has grown immensely to encompass a variety of skills and duties. Depending on how an industrial engineer is trained, they might specialize in only a few of the job’s typical duties, or have knowledge of all of them. Below, we will explore some of the typical fields of expertise that industrial engineers should be familiar with.
On Demand Skills
An industrial engineer should be trained to look in to problems that are somehow related to quality. The engineer should also know how to meet constraints posed by design or manufacturing method. Furthermore, the industrial engineer should know how to implement changes in the design process where this is appropriate. Finally, the industrial engineer should know how to look in to and resolve problems when it comes to the way a machine is functioning.
Short Term Industrial Engineering Skills
Industrial engineers should be familiar with the basics of product design. This enables them to analyze the whole product design process to find out whether this process would be best split in to different levels of operation, or whether sub-assemblies should be applied at certain point in the design process. Thus, the engineer will also have to be aware of what facilities are at the disposal of the business.
At each step of the operation, the industrial engineer should be aware of the methods being employed to assemble a specific product. That includes knowing every detail, down to the nature of the tools being used, how the machines operate, making sure that the safety equipment functions properly, and how to design and built any pieces of machinery that may be required to assemble at the plant for the product’s manufacture. Thus, the industrial engineer will also have to be aware of any special laws regarding health issues, quality policies, etc. For automated machines, special programs might have to be created.
Medium Term Industrial Engineering Skills
For every level of manufacturing process, the maintenance plan for that process must be determined by the industrial engineer employed to work on that facet of the plan.
The entire range of products that pass through the design and manufacturing process have to be evaluated by the engineer. Then, the engineer must decide whether the overall process might not be improved by reconfiguring the current facilities or by buying better equipment. In the wider realm of supply chain management, this might infer that the entire process might be better done as an outsource job.
All products passing through the process should be evaluated by the industrial engineer, who in turn will decide how that product might be best improved – in some cases, this might lead to a total re-design of the product. Industrial engineers are skilled at finding ways of cutting costs in the design and manufacture of specific products.
Long Term Industrial Engineering Skills
In terms of long term skills, industrial engineers will be required to analyze the product flow through the factory’s facilities. In doing so, they will need to determine how efficient the overall process is. Thus, knowledge of statistical analysis is required.
Industrial engineers will also be involved in the training of new workers for assembly line products. They will also be expected to impose deadlines in order that new products get out on to the market on time, allowing plenty of time for changes to be made, where necessary.
When it comes to complex products, about eighty percent of the customers it is designed for will only use about twenty percent of the product’s features. This is what the concept of value engineering is based on. The industrial engineer thus is expected to focus on the development of products, so that a superior product may be produced at a lower cost for the vast majority of the market group. When a particular customer is in need of more features, they can then be sold to the customer in the form of additional options. For areas such as the production of computer printers, where engineering costs are high, this can be extremely valuable.