The origins of the name: industrial engineering
While originally applied to manufacturing, the use of "industrial" in "industrial engineering" can be somewhat misleading, since it has grown to encompass any methodical or quantitative approach to optimizing how a process, system, or organization operates.
People have changed the term "industrial" to broader terms such as Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research, Industrial Engineering & Management.
Fields and topics
The various fields and topics that industrial engineers are involved with include:
- Manufacturing Engineering
- Engineering management
- Process engineering: design, operation, control, and optimization of chemical, physical, and biological processes.
- Systems engineering: an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on how to design and manage complex engineering systems over their life cycles.
- Software engineering: an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of the software that make computers or other devices containing software work
- Safety engineering: an engineering discipline which assures that engineered systems provide acceptable levels of safety.
- Data science: the science of exploring, manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing data to derive useful insights and conclusions
- Machine learning: the automation of learning from data using models and algorithms
- Analytics and data mining: the discovery, interpretation, and extraction of patterns and insights from large quantities of data
- Cost engineering: practice devoted to the management of project cost, involving such activities as cost- and control- estimating, which is cost control and cost forecasting, investment appraisal, and risk analysis.
- Value engineering: a systematic method to improve the "value" of goods or products and services by using an examination of function.
- Predetermined motion time system: a technique to quantify time required for repetitive tasks.
- Quality engineering: a way of preventing mistakes or defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers.
- Project management: is the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures, and protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems.
- Supply chain management: the management of the flow of goods. It includes the movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.
- Ergonomics: the practice of designing products, systems or processes to take proper account of the interaction between them and the people that use them.
- Operations research, also known as management science: a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions
- Operations management: an area of management concerned with overseeing, designing, and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in the production of goods or services.
- Job design: the specification of contents, methods, and relationship of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder.
- Financial engineering: the application of technical methods, especially from mathematical finance and computational finance, in the practice of finance
- Industrial plant configuration: sizing of necessary infrastructure used in support and maintenance of a given facility.
- Facility management: an interdisciplinary field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people and organization
- Engineering design process: formulation of a plan to help an engineer build a product with a specified performance goal.
- Logistics: the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet some requirements, of customers or corporations.
- Accounting: the measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities
- Capital projects: the management of activities in capital projects involves the flow of resources, or inputs, as they are transformed into outputs. Many of the tools and principles of industrial engineering can be applied to the configuration of work activities within a project. The application of industrial engineering and operations management concepts and techniques to the execution of projects has been thus referred to as Project Production Management.
Traditionally, a major aspect of industrial engineering was planning the layouts of factories and designing assembly lines and other manufacturing paradigms. And now, in lean manufacturing systems, industrial engineers work to eliminate wastes of time, money, materials, energy, and other resources.
Examples of where industrial engineering might be used include flow process charting, process mapping, designing an assembly workstation, strategizing for various operational logistics, consulting as an efficiency expert, developing a new financial algorithm or loan system for a bank, streamlining operation and emergency room location or usage in a hospital, planning complex distribution schemes for materials or products (referred to as supply-chain management), and shortening lines (or queues) at a bank, hospital, or a theme park.
Modern industrial engineers typically use predetermined motion time system, computer simulation (especially discrete event simulation), along with extensive mathematical tools for modeling, such as mathematical optimization and queueing theory, and computational methods for system analysis, evaluation, and optimization. Industrial engineers also use the tools of data science and machine learning in their work owing to the strong relatedness of these disciplines with the field and the similar technical background required of industrial engineers (including a strong foundation in probability theory, linear algebra, and statistics, as well as having coding skills).