October 13, 2014

Manufacturing Management - Introduction

Planning, organizing and controlling manufacture of goods is manufacturing management. Chase et al. define operations management as the design, operation, and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the firm's primary products and services. Operations management is a discipline that includes production of goods and services.

Once the company decides to manufacture and sell a product, the specialized responsibility of the manufacturing management starts. But the decision to manufacture a product is based on feasibility analysis. During this analysis also manufacturing management issues are involved. Therefore, the persons doing strategic analysis or corporate planning analysis include persons from manufacturing management discipline with manufacturing management knowledge and bring into the analysis or decision making process the manufacturing view point.

Manufacturing is carried out through processes. A process is any actvity or group of activities that takes one or more inputs, transforms them, and provides one or more outputs. The output could be for an external customer for sale or for an internal customer to use for further processing. In some cases it can be for consumption in the same process or by the consumption by the producer hmself. Manufacturing processes convert materials into goods that have a physical form. The transformation processes change the materials on one or more of the following dimensions:

1. Physical properties
2. Shape
3. Fixed dimension
4. Surface finish
5. Joining parts and materials.

The outputs from manufacturing processes can stored and transported in anticipation of future demand (Krajewski et al. 2007).

Important Developments in Manufacturing Management

Developments in manufacturing management include certain technical developments that made manufacturing systems more productive and flexible.

Shop floor management guidelines provided by F.W. Taylor were landmarks in the field of manufacturing management. Taylor further development Scientific management philosophy. Taylor also brought out the importance of scientific studies in manufacturing processes improvement or design. His studies on machining were considered a very important research contribution. Taylor also introduced time study based best practice identification and training all operators in the best practice. He advocated that manufacturing managers have the responsibility of developing manufacturing methods and training operators in best methods.

Frank Gilbreth developed study of motions of operators to develop efficient operator movements either to do manual work or to operate machines. He and Lilian Gilbreth also introduced the concept of fatigue and proposed ways to prevent the negative consequences of fatigue in operators as well as in manufacturing systems.

Henry Ford introduced moving assembly lines that revolutionized the production systems. Henry Gantt developed charts that helped scheduling production activities.

Harry Emerson wrote a book on principles of efficiency and it became part of industrial engineering and scientific management literature. Focus on efficiency in systems in general and especially manufacturing systems sharpened.

F.W. Harris developed theory of batch quantities in production and purchase. Walter Shewart developed procedures for using statistical thinking in process control. He created methods for determining when to change machine setups based on the measurements of samples taken at random intervals.

Hawthorne studies became another landmark development in manufacturing management. They brought out the importance of psychological variables in improving or decreasing productivity of operators. Unfortunately, the proponents of this line of thought have not integrated their conclusions with the ideas of scientific management appropriately. They chose to attack themes of scientific management. Manufacturing management might have had a different state today, if scientific management movement that had engineering foundations and human relations school of thought that had psychology as its foundation were appropriately integrated by human relations school.

Development of operations research (OR) helped manufacturing managers to understand and optimize their systems better. Study of operations research became a part of studies of manufacturing managers. Use of computers was started in recording store related transactions and data and it was extended to shop floor transaction data. The use was further extended to calculation of batch quantities and preparation of loading sheets and schedules. MRP and MRP II came into existence and they got extended into ERP systems.

In 1970s, scholars in USA recognized that Japanese had used their manufacturing management philosophies, strategies and techniques as a strategic capability to win market shares in global markets. A new era of manufacturing strategy thought developed in manufacturing management. Automation increased in factories. With this multi-skilling of operators came into picture as now operators have more time and can operate more machines. As group layout became more popular, an operator was required to operate different machines which were in series. Total quality management, total productive maintenance, total cost management became the strategies. JIT or lean systems became the best practice production systems. While improvement everywhere reached its zenith, the important idea that it is improvement in bottleneck that has the most value was highlighted by Goldratt in the name of 'Theory of Constraints.'

Many new technologies came into existence and were adopted into manufacturing processes. The existing ideas regarding technology adoption did not emphasize the suboptimal use of technology. The full power of technology was not being put to use by many. Theory of BPR brought this into focus and helped systems become more productive by utilizing the power and potential of the new technologies more. Ability to look at bigger and bigger systems using OR models and system dynamics models and the ability to access data anywhere using internet based data communication systems made coordination across distributed national and global facilities. This led to the development of theory of supply chain wherein information can be made visible to anybody and optimization can be done from the point of origin or raw materials to its dumping point. Manufacturing facilities are now a part of supply chains wherein information is available to both suppliers and potential customers in real time and purchasing is done through electronic orders. In a century, manufacturing management theory and practice developed immensely.

Chase, Richard, B., F. Robert Jacobs, Nicholas J. Aquilano , Operations Management, 11th Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2006.
Krajewski, Lee et al., Operations Management: Processes and Value Chains, 8th Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 2007.


Early Books on Manufacturing Management

Factory Organization and Administration
Hugo Dimer, First Professor of Industrial Engineering, Pennsylavania State College
First edition: 1910
Third edition digital copy

Profit Making in Shop and Factory Management
Charles U. Carpenter, 1908

Shop Management
Frederick Winslow Taylor, 1911

Factory and Office Administration
Lee Galloway, 1918

Factory Management Wastes: And How to Prevent Them
James F. Whiteford, 1919

Plant Management
Dexter S. Kimball, 1919


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