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Production Systems Engineering: Recommendations for Managers

Recommendations for Management

The following is an excerpt from an article in the International Journal of Production Research written by the Production Systems Engineering short course faculty with recommendations to practitioners.


"(1) Exercise Measurement-based Management (MBM): Similar to a physician who cannot treat a patient without taking some vital signs, a manager cannot 'treat' a production system without measuring its 'vital signs'& Machines' efficiency, reliability, utilization, etc., do not testify to the 'health' of a production system as a whole. Only blockages and starvation characterize the total system performance – machines, buffers, and the structure of the system. Thus, exercising MBM, i.e. measuring blockages and starvation, using the arrow-based method to identify the bottlenecks, and making decisions based on this information, is a rigorous engineering way of managing production systems.

(2) Exercise Just Right (JR) rather than Just-in-Time (JIT) operation: Lean buffering depends on managerial decisions of how much to produce. If the manager wishes to obtain the maximum possible throughput, JR buffers are of 'infinite' capacity. If the manager is satisfied with a lower (or much lower) throughput, JR buffers are small (or even zero, i.e. JIT). The& PSE Toolbox function allow[s] the manager to calculate the JR buffer capacity that is necessary and sufficient to obtain the desired throughput.

(3) Ensure buffering potency: Management should pay close attention not only to the machines but to the buffers as well. The goal is to ensure buffering potency, i.e. the condition under which the worst machine in the system is, in fact, the bottleneck. Only in this situation are machines and buffers utilized in the best possible manner&

Operating production systems according to these recommendations is not easy. The benefits, however, are that the manager would not have to manage by 'gut feelings' or argue his/her opinion 'by persuasion' – hard engineering knowledge and the highest productivity will be the manager's allies.

From: Jingshan Li , Semyon M. Meerkov & Liang Zhang (2013): Production systems engineering: main results and recommendations for management, International Journal of Production Research, DOI:10.1080/00207543.2012.757667