If we assess the past, covering a period of 200 years after Adam Smith, it can be observed that total production capacity as well as productivity have expanded considerably. Production Management has become an empirical applied science. Undoubtedly, during this period, we have responded to the expansion of markets and large scale business units by using the concepts of division of labor and progressive mechanization in order to achieve economies of large scale production. The history of production management can be studied as under :
Fredric W. Taylor studied the simple output-to-time relationship for manual labour such as brick-laying. This formed the precursor of the present day ‘time- study’. Around the same time, Frank Gilberth and his learned wife Lillian Gilberth examined the motions of the limbs of the workers (such as the hands, legs, eyes, etc.) in performing the jobs, and tried to standardize these motions into certain categories and utilize the classification to arrive at standards for time required to perform a given job. This was the precursor to the present day ‘motion study’. Although, to this day Gilberth’s classification of movements is used extensively, there have been various modifications and newer classifications.
So far the focus was on controlling the work-output of the manual labourer or the machine operator. The primary objective of production management was that of efficiency-efficiency of the individual operator. The aspects of collective efficiency came into being later, expressed through the efforts of scientists such as Gantt who shifted the attention to scheduling of the operations. (Even now, we use the Gantt Charts in operations scheduling). The considerations of efficiency in the use of materials followed later. It was almost 1930, before a basic inventory model was presented by F. W. Harris.
After the progress of application of scientific principles to the manufacturing aspects, thought progressed to control over the quality of the finished material itself. So far, the focus was on the quantitative aspects; now it shifted to the
quality aspects. ‘Quality’, which is an important customer service objective, came to be recognized for scientific analysis. The analysis of productive systems, therefore, now also included the ‘effectiveness’ in addition to efficiency. In 1931, Walter Shewart came up with his theory regarding Control Charts for quality or what is known as ‘process control’. These charts suggested a simple graphical methodology to monitor the quality characteristics of the output and to control it by exercising control over the process. In 1935, H.F., Dodge, and
H.G. Romig came up with the application of statistical principles to the acceptance and/or rejection of the consignments supplied by the suppliers to exercise control over the quality. This field, which has developed over the years, is now known as ‘acceptance sampling’.
Effectiveness as a Function of Internal Climate
In addition to effectiveness for the customer, the concept of effectiveness as a function of internal climate dawned on management scientists through the Hawthorne experiments which actually had the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the individual worker. These experiments showed that worker efficiency went up when the intensity of illumination was gradually increased, and even when the intensity of illumination was gradually decreased, the worker efficiency still kept rising. This puzzle could be explained only through the angle of human psychology; the very fact that somebody cared, mattered much to the workers who gave increased output. Till now; it was Taylor’s theory of elementalization of task and thus the specialization in one task which found much use in Henry Ford’s Assembly Line.
Advent of Operations Research Techniques
The application of scientific techniques in management really received a big boost during the World War II period when the field of Operations Research came into being. During this war, the Allied Force took the help of statisticians, scientists, engineers, etc. to analyze and answer, questions such as : What is the optimum way of mining the harbours of the areas occupied by the Japanese? What should be the optimum size of the fleet of the supply ships, taking into account the costs of loss due to enemy attack and the costs of employing the defence fleet? Such research about the military operations was termed as Operations Research. After World War II, this field was further investigated and developed by academic institutions; and today, it has become one of the very important fields of management theory. Various techniques such as Linear Programming, Mathematical Programming, Game Theory, Queuing Theory, etc. developed by people such as George Dantzig. A. Charnes, W. W. Cooper, etc. have become indispensable tools for management decision-making today.
The Computer Era
After the breakthrough made by Operations Research, another marvel came into being the Computer. Around 1955, IBM developed the digital computer and made it available later on a large-scale basis. This made possible the complex and repeated computations involved in various Operations Research and other Management Science techniques, and definitely added to the spread of the use of Management Science concepts and techniques in all fields of decision- making.
The Production and Operations Management Scenario Today
More importantly, the long experience of industrial life, the growth of technology and the rapidly growing availability of its benefits, have all been changing the value systems all over the world. The concepts of ‘quality of life’, whether expressed explicitly or otherwise, have gained solid ground. The demand for ‘service’ or the ‘state’ utility is fast catching up with the demand for ‘form’ utility. Services are becoming as important, if not more, as the availability of physical products. The demand for ‘variety’ in products and services is on the increase. The concepts of ‘customer’ and ‘customer orientation’ are very vital today, as also the definition of the word ‘customer’ itself. The producing workers themselves are a part of the ‘customers’. There is great pressure every where to enhance the quality of life in general. If in the developed countries there is an increased demand for ‘flexi-time’ (flexible times of working), in India we have already witnessed the shortening of the traditional six-day week to a five-day week in even traditional organizations such as the Central Government and State Governments. (Of course, the total time of working has remained the same.) In addition to all this, there is the increasing complexity of the space-age economies, the socio-techno-economic scene and the problem of depleting resources.
Such a complex scenario needs freedom from compartmentalized thinking and an integrated consideration of the various factors that impinge on the production and operations management system. It needs to introduce fresh variables, e.g. that of safety in the external and internal environment and an added emphasis on maintenance. These are the chal1enges of the production and operations management discipline.
Production is a succession of work elements applied to natural materials with the purpose of transforming these into desired goods and services for the satisfaction of human wants. Thus modem production phenomenon is an evolution and production administration deals with planning and control of various operations and components associated with production process. However there are a number of definitions given by different experts of Production administration according to their own experiences. The concept can be explained by the following definitions :
According to Frederick W. Taylor, father of scientific management, “functional management consists of division of management work in such a way that every person below the rank of assistant superintendent has as few responsibilities as possible. If possible the work of each man should be confined to perform a single leading function”.
The various departments of Production Administration can be listed as production engineering, production planning and production control.