Introduction to Industrial Engineering

By Jane M. Fraser

Chapter 9


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“[M]ost of us -- including a good many people in industrial production itself -- fail to understand that modern production, and especially modern mass production, is not based on raw materials or gadgets but on principles of organization -- organization not of machines but of human beings, i.e., on social organization” (page 31, Peter F. Drucker, The Concept of the Corporation, 1983).

Among all the engineering specialties, industrial engineering focuses the most on people. Because we design and improve production systems involving people and machines, we need to think about what people and machines can and can’t do quickly, well, and safely. On some tasks, people are clearly better than machines (for example, helping customers) while on other tasks, machines are clearly better than people (for example, lifting very heavy objects). Many production tasks require a combination of people and machines. The goal is to design a system of people and machines that can do the work with efficiency, quality, and safety.

This chapter is divided into five sections, but, as usual, the areas overlap.

Poor conditions in any of these aspects can have harmful short term or long term effects on people such as:

Goetsch (page 145) defines ergonomics as “the science of conforming the workplace and all of its elements to the worker." Sections 9.1, 9.2, and 9.3 include topics in ergonomics or human factors. Some IE graduates choose to specialize in this area, often including graduate work.