Systems for production have existed since ancient times. The Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, the ships of the Roman and Spanish empires, and the roads and aqueducts of the Romans provide examples of the human ability to organize for production. Even so, most of these examples could be classified as public works projects. The production of goods for sale, at least in the modern sense, and the modern factory system had their roots in the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution began in the 1770s in England and spread to the rest of Europe and to the United States during the 19th century. Prior to that time, goods were produced in small shops by craftsmen and their apprentices. Under that system, it was common for one person to be responsible for making a product, such as a horse-drawn wagon or a piece of furniture, from start to finish. Only simple tools were available; the machines that we use today had not been invented.
Then, a number of innovations in the 18th century changed the face of production forever by substituting machine power for human power. Perhaps the most significant of these was the steam engine, because it provided a source of power to operate machines in factories. The spinning jenny and the power loom revolutionized the textile industry. Ample supplies of coal and iron ore provided materials for generating power and making machinery. The new machines, made of iron, were much stronger and more durable than the simple wooden machines they replaced.
In the earliest days of manufacturing, goods were produced using craft productionSystem in which highly skilled workers use simple, flexible tools to produce small quantities of customized goods.: highly skilled workers using simple, flexible tools produced goods according to customer specifications.
Craft production had major shortcomings. Because products were made by skilled craftsmen who custom fitted parts, production was slow and costly. And when parts failed, the replacements also had to be custom made, which was also slow and costly. Another shortcoming was that production costs did not decrease as volume increased; there were no economies of scale, which would have provided a major incentive for companies to expand. Instead, many small companies emerged, each with its own set of standards.
A major change occurred that gave the Industrial Revolution a boost: the development of standard gauging systems. This greatly reduced the need for custom-made goods. Factories began to spring up and grow rapidly, providing jobs for countless people who were attracted in large numbers from rural areas.
Despite the major changes that were taking place, management theory and practice had not progressed much from early days. What was needed was an enlightened and more systematic approach to management.
The scientific management era brought widespread changes to the management of factories. The movement was spearheaded by the efficiency engineer and inventor Frederick Winslow Taylor, who is often referred to as the father of scientific management. Taylor believed in a science of management based on observation, measurement, analysis and improvement of work methods, and economic incentives. He studied work methods in great detail to identify the best method for doing each job. Taylor also believed that management should be responsible for planning, carefully selecting and training workers, finding the best way to perform each job, achieving cooperation between management and workers, and separating management activities from work activities.
Taylors methods emphasized maximizing output. They were not always popular with workers, who sometimes thought the methods were used to unfairly increase output without a corresponding increase in compensation. Certainly some companies did abuse workers in their quest for efficiency. Eventually, the public outcry reached the halls of Congress, and hearings were held on the matter. Taylor himself was called to testify in 1911, the same year in which his classic book, The Principles of Scientific Management, was published. The publicity from those hearings actually helped scientific management principles to achieve wide acceptance in industry.
A number of other pioneers also contributed heavily to this movement, including the following:
Frank Gilbreth was an industrial engineer who is often referred to as the father of motion study. He developed principles of motion economy that could be applied to incredibly small portions of a task.
Henry Gantt recognized the value of nonmonetary rewards to motivate workers, and developed a widely used system for scheduling, called Gantt charts.
Harrington Emerson applied Taylors ideas to organization structure and encouraged the use of experts to improve organizational efficiency. He testified in a congressional hearing that railroads could save a million dollars a day by applying principles of scientific management.
Henry Ford, the great industrialist, employed scientific management techniques in his factories.
During the early part of the 20th century, automobiles were just coming into vogue in the United States. Fords Model T was such a success that the company had trouble keeping up with orders for the cars. In an effort to improve the efficiency of operations, Ford adopted the scientific management principles espoused by Frederick Winslow Taylor. He also introduced the moving assembly line, which had a tremendous impact on production methods in many industries.
Among Fords many contributions was the introduction of mass productionSystem in which low-skilled workers use specialized machinery to produce high volumes of standardized goods. to the automotive industry, a system of production in which large volumes of standardized goods are produced by low-skilled or semiskilled workers using highly specialized, and often costly, equipment. Ford was able to do this by taking advantage of a number of important concepts. Perhaps the key concept that launched mass production was interchangeable partsParts of a product made to such precision that they do not have to be custom fitted., sometimes attributed to Eli Whitney, an American inventor who applied the concept to assembling muskets in the late 1700s. The basis for interchangeable parts was to standardize parts so that any part in a batch of parts would fit any automobile coming down the assembly line. This meant that parts did not have to be custom fitted, as they were in craft production. The standardized parts could also be used for replacement parts. The result was a tremendous decrease in assembly time and cost. Ford accomplished this by standardizing the gauges used to measure parts during production and by using newly developed processes to produce uniform parts.
A second concept used by Ford was the division of laborThe breaking up of a production process into small tasks, so that each worker performs a small portion of the overall job., which Adam Smith wrote about in The Wealth of Nations (1776). Division of labor means that an operation, such as assembling an automobile, is divided up into a series of many small tasks, and individual workers are assigned to one of those tasks. Unlike craft production, where each worker was responsible for doing many tasks, and thus required skill, with division of labor the tasks were so narrow that virtually no skill was required.
Assembly lines are one of several approaches to the production of goods and delivering services. But the importance of assembly lines to business and society is hard to overstate. Often associated with Henry Fords automobile production, they were the hallmark of mass production, achieving high volumes of standardized products. As such, they played a pivotal role in the development of what we now refer to as industrialized nations. By shifting from craft production methods to assembly lines, producers were able to successfully employ large numbers of unskilled workers. By using assembly lines, they achieved tremendous gains in industrial productivity, produced affordable products, and in the process greatly increased the standard of living of people in industrial nations. As you will learn later in the book, assembly lines also play an important role in a newer approach to operations called lean production or, more generally, lean operations.
Together, these concepts enabled Ford to tremendously increase the production rate at his factories using readily available inexpensive labor. Both Taylor and Ford were despised by many workers, because they held workers in such low regard, expecting them to perform like robots. This paved the way for the human relations movement.
The Human Relations Movement
Whereas the scientific management movement heavily emphasized the technical aspects of work design, the human relations movement emphasized the importance of the human element in job design. Lillian Gilbreth, a psychologist and the wife of Frank Gilbreth, worked with her husband, focusing on the human factor in work. (The Gilbreths were the subject of a classic 1950s film, Cheaper by the Dozen.) Many of her studies in the 1920s dealt with worker fatigue. In the following decades, there was much emphasis on motivation. During the 1930s, Elton Mayo conducted studies at the Hawthorne division of Western Electric. His studies revealed that in addition to the physical and technical aspects of work, worker motivation is critical for improving productivity. During the 1940s, Abraham Maslow developed motivational theories, which Frederick Hertzberg refined in the 1950s. Douglas McGregor added Theory X and Theory Y in the 1960s. These theories represented the two ends of the spectrum of how employees view work. Theory X, on the negative end, assumed that workers do not like to work, and have to be controlledrewarded and punishedto get them to do good work. This attitude was quite common in the automobile industry and in some other industries, until the threat of global competition forced them to rethink that approach. Theory Y, on the other end of the spectrum, assumed that workers enjoy the physical and mental aspects of work and become committed to work. The Theory X approach resulted in an adversarial environment, whereas the Theory Y approach resulted in empowered workers and a more cooperative spirit. In the 1970s, William Ouchi added Theory Z, which combined the Japanese approach with such features as lifetime employment, employee problem solving, and consensus building, and the traditional Western approach that features short-term employment, specialists, and individual decision making and responsibility.
Decision Models and Management Science
The factory movement was accompanied by the development of several quantitative techniques. F. W. Harris developed one of the first models in 1915: a mathematical model for inventory management. In the 1930s, three coworkers at Bell Telephone Labs, H. F. Dodge, H. G. Romig, and W. Shewhart, developed statistical procedures for sampling and quality control. In 1935, L. H. C. Tippett conducted studies that provided the groundwork for statistical-sampling theory.
At first, these quantitative models were not widely used in industry. However, the onset of World War II changed that. The war generated tremendous pressures on manufacturing output, and specialists from many disciplines combined efforts to achieve advancements in the military and in manufacturing. After the war, efforts to develop and refine quantitative tools for decision making continued, resulting in decision models for forecasting, inventory management, project management, and other areas of operations management.
During the 1960s and 1970s, management science techniques were highly regarded; in the 1980s, they lost some favor. However, the widespread use of personal computers and user-friendly software in the workplace contributed to a resurgence in the popularity of these techniques.
The Influence of Japanese Manufacturers
A number of Japanese manufacturers developed or refined management practices that increased the productivity of their operations and the quality of their products. This made them very competitive, sparking interest in their approaches by companies outside Japan. Their approaches emphasized quality and continual improvement, worker teams and empowerment, and achieving customer satisfaction. The Japanese can be credited with spawning the quality revolution that occurred in industrialized countries, and with generating widespread interest in time-based management (just-in-time production).
The influence of the Japanese on U.S. manufacturing and service companies has been enormous and promises to continue for the foreseeable future. Because of that influence, this book will provide considerable information about Japanese methods and successes.
Table 1.6 provides a chronological summary of some of the key developments in the evolution of operations management.
|TABLE 1.6||Historical summary of operations management|
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Discussion and Review Questions 5, 10