Industrial Engineering

Common Sense for Optimization

OptimizationPicture source:


Industrial Engineer – Volume 46 Number 2

There are certain problems that exists in our life, and yet we worried about it even more than what would happen in the future. As industrial engineers, we often face this kind of challenge almost everyday. Usually we optimize process for cost, inventory, time and other metrics.

In the world of manufacturing, there is constant tension between succinct and readable documentation that is complete and comprehensive. What often starts as succinct, usually ends up as something comprehensive and often useless. In manufacturing system, oftenly technicians and even engineers ignored the intent of the process because they feel the documentation didn’t tell them what to do.

Now the technology has evolved, and the paper-based environment in the workplace has been reduced and replaced with the online documentation. Eventhough the electronic system has been applied, there are problems that still occurred in the human aspect. For example, it took two technicians about 20 minutes to find the standard operating procedure online.

Problems can be analyzed and reviewed to prevent reoccurrences. Managers, even engineers, need to trust their people. If the trust isn’t there, more rules are not the solution. Neither are more classes on lean or Total Quality Control. Rather, management needs to set the tone and the metrics, and engineers and other process leaders need to set the example for a culture where people are expected to think critically and act responsibly.

This enables an organization where mistakes happen only once. When process documentation and deployment is a team game instead of a blame game and when everyone is engaged and on board, common sense is more common.