Industrial engineers play a major role in Supply Chain that spans both Manufacturing and Logistics. In this post, I will discuss the role Industrial Engineering plays in designing optimal Manufacturing process flows. In Manufacturing context -the key decisions concerning the design of the production process and the rates of flow that can be achieved to make products and the routings needed to make a specific product are generally the responisbility of Industrial engineers.
A Manufacturing business can become world class only if not only the product design but also the production process is optimized. An inappropriately designed production system will also add costs and inflexibilities to a product if design and manufacturing processes are misaligned.
The often behind the scenes role of Industrial Engineers
Unknown to many, Industrial Engineers often make key critical decisions that range from strategic, all the way to operational, as shown in the illustration developed by me below.
The decisions indicated above are taken with the intention of optimizing the production quality, rate and flexibility of the process. Engineers will spend a lot of time examining flow and flow rates at each part of the factory:
- Checking that the process flow results in the minimal amount of time to get the product to flow from the start to the end points in the factory
- Checking the cycle time of mchinery so that products can flow from one to another
- Estimating buffer stockd to maintain flow (location and quantity)
- Estimating the capacity at each stage and for the entire process (including the identification of bottlenecks or constraint equipments)
- Understanding the requirements at each stage of the process, including number of staff and shift patterns
- Estiating proecss wastes within a factory and changeover times between products
- Determining the information flow needed for each production area and lead time needed to protect the equipment and the team.
To conclude, Industrial Engineers are indispensable part of not only warehousing and logistics but also Manafacturing. Because of their balance of expertise between engineering and management, they are apt to become leaders in the evolving Supply Chain 4.0 landscape which will be very digital driven.
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