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Report on Operations Management

6 pages
1504 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Decision making. Linked to any level position is decision making. Given the rank of the operations manager, he must have the capacity and authority to make quick decisions that are appropriate to the company's needs.

Positive and resolute attitude towards problems. Knowing how to solve a problem properly and soon is one of the most coveted values inherent in this position.

Being efficient. Efficiency is, without a doubt, one of the key competencies in this job. Being proficient in the organization, in the planning and, even, in the development of the works is of great importance for, on the one hand, being an example for the rest of the workers and, on the other, being able to implement the best strategies.

Multidisciplinary As we have already mentioned, the work in this job is multidisciplinary, which is why the head of operations must also be. Training in all areas of the company and knowing that its functions are spread across all areas of the company is what makes it one of the most valued professionals.

Adapt to changes and the environment. The ability to adapt and, why not, to predict changes with time is vital for the proper functioning of the company to continue like this.

It should be mentioned that all these skills are usually considered innate, since in some individuals they are usually more present than in others but, the truth is that every one of them can be acquired with the appropriate courses and, most importantly, with time and experience.

Evolutionary History of Operations Management

Operations Management has existed since man has produced his goods and services to satisfy his needs. Although the origin of operations can be sought in ancient and primary civilizations, most of this evolutionary history refers to practically the last 250 years (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). The story is presented according to the most important contributions or primordial impulses and not in strictly chronological terms. On this basis, there are several vital areas that have contributed to the evolutionary development of production and operations management.

The Industrial Revolution

In the eighteenth century in England, a development called Industrial Revolution occurred. This advance included two main aspects: the generalized substitution of human, animal and hydraulic power by machines; that originates the second aspect as was the establishment of the factory system (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). The steam engine invented by James Watt in 1764, provided the necessary mechanical power for the factories of that time, likewise, with this invention there were other parallel events such as the concentration of workers in factories, creating the need to organize them in the form more logical and adequate for the completion of each task.

Division of labor with the publication in 1776 of the work The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, where he placed the Division of Labor in a prominent position, also known as the specialization of tasks, which consisted primarily of the division of labor. The elaboration of the products in small specialized tasks assigned to the workers through the production lines. Smith noted that the specialization of the worker increases production in three factors: 1) Increase of the skill of the worker; 2) Avoid lost time due to change of work; 3) Invention of machines and tools according to the needs and specialization of man. Then Charles Babbage spread those ideas in a pin factory (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). In 1913 Henry Ford combined the Taylor teachings with the concepts of work specialization and interchangeable parts to design the first mobile assembly line: thus direct labor productivity increased dramatically, achieving production rates not obtained beforehand. The idea of interchange parts is prevalent nowadays, and we do not detail its importance.

Scientific management: A small group of engineers, businessmen, advisers, educators, and researchers developed the methods and thoughts called as scientific management. In 1911 Frederick Taylor's studies of working methods and his views on the roles and responsibilities of workers and administrators revolutionized Operations Management. Many of his ideas and techniques are still put into practice (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). This school of thought seeks to discover the best method to work using the following scientific approach: 1) observation of current working methods; 2) development of an improved method through measurement and scientific analysis; 3) training of workers in the new method; 4) constant feedback and management of the work process. Frank and Lilian Gilbreth refined the theories and techniques used by Taylor during the first decade of the last century. This method has received attacks from unions, workers, and academics. However, these principles, ideas, and techniques are still put into practice if the interaction between social and technical work environments is considered.

Movement of human relationships: In spite of the continuous efforts of scientists and administrators to improve their capacity to design products and positions, the differences between the theories and the real production of the work remained very distant. In the decade of the twenties and thirty Elton Mayo and F.J. Roethlisberger conducted a series of studies at a Western Electric plant in Hawthorne (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). The results showed that psychological factors were as important in determining the pace of work performance as the scientific design of the position, where the Hawthorne studies were carried out. In these studies, it was indicated that the motivation of workers, together with the physical and technical work environment, forms a crucial element to improve productivity. With this, the school of scientific administration was moderated. The school of human relations thinking has also enriched work, considered as the method that has great potential to "humanize the workplace" as well as to increase productivity.

Development of decision-making models: The two world wars left new technologies, products, and markets. Given the increase in the size and complexity of the factories, it was necessary to introduce sophisticated decision-making instruments. Thus a new field was born, Operations Research in which the decision-making models are used to represent a productive system in mathematical terms (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). A decision-making model is expressed regarding performance measures, constraints and decision variables. Its purpose is to find the optimal or satisfactory values for the decision variables that can improve the performance of the system within the applicable restrictions. These models can help guide management decision making. The first use of this approach was in the model of the economic lot for the administration of inventories, developed in 1915 by Ford W. Harris. In 1931, Walter Shewhart developed the quantitative decision model to be used in statistical quality control work. In 1947, George Dantzig introduced linear programming, an administrative instrument for allocating resources (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). One of these models of Dantzig was the Simplex method. On the other hand, the need to increase productivity led to establishing a new field, ergonomics or engineering of human factors, which highlights the need to design equipment that matches the needs and capacity of the user.

Impact of the Computer The decade of the fifties witnessed the development of the computer (and Babbage had described it for the first time a hundred years before), and it was the beginning of the technological age in information (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). Shortly after the invention of the digital computer, Shockley discovered the transistor, which allowed processing data and information with lower costs. The huge increase in data processing capacity contributed to the development of instruments and techniques such as Material Requirement Planning (MRP) and the Critical Path Method (CPM). The use of computers dramatically changed the field of operations management since they entered the companies in the 1950s. Most manufacturing operations employ computers for inventory management, production scheduling, quality control, computer-aided manufacturing, cost systems, and other applications.

The era of flexible production Contrary to what happened in the United States, the competitive, social and economic environment of Japan and other European countries after the Second World War was not at all propitious to adopt mass production. Instead, the Japanese developed an alternative that involved using equipment from several skilled workers and equipped with flexible automatic tools to make small volumes of a wide variety of product (Wren & Bedeian, 2012)s. The continuous improvement of products and processes guaranteed a quality and reasonable prices. In response to the success of the Japanese, US companies shifted their focus away from mass production. The technique of using equipment powered by Software allows production processes to be more flexible compared to previous times.

Knowledge is today the main input in the process of transformation of companies, both in the service and manufacturing sectors. Today we have the so-called SIM-Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, which can be used routinely to collect, store and disseminate knowledge. A SIM is a combination of information technologies, statistically distributed data/information systems and decision makers (Wren & Bedeian, 2012). The computerized segment can handle the transformation process within the predetermined limits; when these limits are exceeded, the human element intervenes in the decision-making process. The Administration of Production and Operations has been transformed and continues to do so. The conversion of production and operations into one is one of the most interesting areas of a company.

Obstacles and Challenges to Operations Managemen...

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