Industrial engineering

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Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering which deals with the optimization of complex processes or systems. It is concerned with the development, improvement, implementation of integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy, materials, analysis and synthesis, as well as the mathematical, physical and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering design to specify, predict, and evaluate the results to be obtained from such systems or processes. While industrial engineering is a traditional and longstanding engineering discipline subject to (and eligible for) professional engineering licensure in most jurisdictions, its underlying concepts overlap considerably with certain business-oriented disciplines such as operations management.

Depending on the subspecialties involved, industrial engineering may also be known as, or overlap with, operations management, management science, operations research, systems engineering, management engineering, manufacturing engineering, ergonomics or human factors engineering, safety engineering, or others, depending on the viewpoint or motives of the user. For example, in health care, the engineers known as health management engineers[not verified in body] or health systems engineers are, in essence, industrial engineers by another name.


While the term 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. Some engineering universities and educational agencies around the world have changed the term "industrial" to broader terms such as "production" or "systems", leading to the typical extensions noted above. In fact, the primary U.S. professional organization for Industrial Engineers, the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) has been considering changing its name to something broader (such as the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers), although the latest vote among membership deemed this unnecessary for the time being.

The various topics concerning industrial engineers include:

Traditionally, a major aspect of industrial engineering was planning the layouts of factories and designing assembly lines and other manufacturing paradigms. And now, in so-called 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 modelling, such as mathematical optimization and queue theory, and computational methods for system analysis, evaluation, and optimization.


Efforts to apply science to the design of processes and of production systems were made by many people in the 18th and 19th centuries. They took some time to evolve and to be synthesized into disciplines that we would label with names such as industrial engineering, production engineering, or systems engineering. For example, precursors to industrial engineering included some aspects of military science; the quest to develop manufacturing using interchangeable parts; the development of the armory system of manufacturing; the work of Henri Fayol and colleagues (which grew into a larger movement called Fayolism); and the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor and colleagues (which grew into a larger movement called scientific management). In the late 19th century, such efforts began to inform consultancy and higher education. The idea of consulting with experts about process engineering naturally evolved into the idea of teaching the concepts as curriculum.

Industrial engineering courses were taught by multiple universities in Europe at the end of the 19th century, including in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.[1] In the United States, the first department of industrial and manufacturing engineering was established in 1909 at the Pennsylvania State University. The first doctoral degree in industrial engineering was awarded in the 1930s by Cornell University.

In general it can be said that the foundations of industrial engineering as it looks today, began to be built in the twentieth century. The first half of the century was characterized by an emphasis on increasing efficiency and reducing industrial organizations their costs.

In 1909, Frederick Taylor published his theory of scientific management, which included accurate analysis of human labor, systematic definition of methods, tools and training for employees. Taylor dealt in time using timers, set standard times and managed to increase productivity while reducing labor costs and increasing the wages and salaries of the employees.

In 1912 Henry Laurence Gantt developed the Gantt chart which outlines actions the organization along with their relationships. This chart opens later form familiar to us today by Wallace Clark.

Assembly lines: moving car factory of Henry Ford (1913) accounted for a significant leap forward in the field. Ford reduced the assembly time of a car more than 700 hours to 1.5 hours. In addition, he was a pioneer of the economy of the capitalist welfare ("welfare capitalism") and the flag of providing financial incentives for employees to increase productivity.

Comprehensive quality management system (TQM) developed in the forties was gaining momentum after World War II and was part of the recovery of Japan after the war.

In 1960 to 1975, with the development of decision support systems in supply such as the MRP, you can emphasize the timing issue (inventory, production, compounding, transportation, etc.) of industrial organization. Israeli scientist Dr. Jacob Rubinovitz installed the CMMS program developed in IAI and Control-Data (Israel) in 1976 in South Africa and worldwide.

In the seventies, with the penetration of Japanese management theories such as Kaizen and Kanban West, was transferred to highlight issues of quality, delivery time, and flexibility.

In the nineties, following the global industry globalization process, the emphasis was on supply chain management, and customer-oriented business process design. Theory of constraints developed by an Israeli scientist Eliyahu M. Goldratt (1985) is also a significant milestone in the field.

University programs[edit]

2012 U.S News Rankings[2]

Georgia Institute of Technology1
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor2
University of California, Berkeley3
Purdue University4
Stanford University5
Texas A&M University6
Northwestern University7
Pennsylvania State University8
University of Wisconsin9
Virginia Tech10

Many universities have bachelor, masters, and doctoral level programs available. US News and World Report's article on "America's Best Colleges 2012" lists schools offering undergraduate engineering specialities in Industrial or Manufacturing Engineering. Penn State University had the first Industrial Engineering Department in the U.S.[3] The Georgia Institute of Technology has been ranked as having the best Industrial Engineering program in the United States consecutively for twenty-two years while the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of California, Berkeley have been consistently ranked second and third, respectively.

One of the best known international graduate programs in Europe can be found at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark, under the title Global Systems Design. The program is successful in particular due to the involvement of companies and the use of real use-cases throughout the program.

In Asia, Anna University in India includes Industrial Engineering in its undergraduate curriculum. The Mechanical Engineering Department conducts research into applications in the manufacturing industry, mainly the apparel industry, with linkages to European, American and other institutions. Many universities in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan also have such linked programs.

Undergraduate curriculum[edit]

In the United States, the usual undergraduate degree earned is the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Science and Engineering (B.S.E.) in Industrial Engineering (IE). Variations of the concentration title include Industrial & Operations Engineering (IOE), and Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISE). Some universities require international credits to complete the BS degree.[clarification needed]. In several other countries including South Africa, either the BEng(Industrial) or the BSc(Industrial) can be obtained at different universities, but the degrees are quite similar in content.

Like most undergraduate engineering programs, the typical curriculum includes a broad math and science foundation spanning chemistry, physics, mechanics (i.e. statics and dynamics), materials science, computer science, electronics/circuits, engineering design, and the standard range of engineering mathematics (i.e. calculus, differential equations, statistics). For any engineering undergraduate program to be accredited, regardless of concentration, it must cover a largely similar span of such foundational work - which also overlaps heavily with the content tested on one or more engineering licensure exams in most jurisdictions.

Then regarding coursework specific to IE, the curricula often entail specialized courses in areas such as systems theory or design or analysis, ergonomics/safety, stochastics, optimization, advanced mathematics and computation or modeling, and/or engineering economics. Less technical subjects may include management, finance, strategy, and other business-oriented courses, and occasionally social science courses such as psychology or public policy. Sometimes, business schools may offer programs with some overlapping relevance to IE, but the engineering programs are distinguished by a more intensely quantitative focus as well as the core math and science courses required of all engineering programs.

Postgraduate curriculum[edit]

The usual postgraduate degree earned is the Master of Science (MS) or Master of Science and Engineering (MSE) in Industrial Engineering or various alternative related concentration titles. Typical MS curricula may cover:

Salaries and workforce statistics[edit]

United States[edit]

The total number of engineers employed in the US in 2006 was roughly 1.5 million. Of these, 201,000 were industrial engineers (13.3%), the third most popular engineering specialty. The average starting salaries were $55,067 with a bachelor's degree, $64,759 with a master's degree, and $77,364 with a doctorate degree. This places industrial engineering at 7th of 15 among engineering bachelor's degrees, 3rd of 10 among master's degrees, and 2nd of 7 among doctorate degrees in average annual salary.[4] The median annual income of industrial engineers in the U.S. workforce is $68,620.


The average total starting salary in 2011 for Norwegian industrial engineers is NOK 5050 ,100 ($83,100),[5] while the average total salary in general is NOK 1,049,054 ($172 600).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "U.S News Rankings". U.S News. November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ "America's Best Colleges 2009: Industrial / Manufacturing". U.S. News & World Report. 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2008. 
  4. ^ U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Engineering – – Accessed January 14, 2009
  5. ^ NTNU Bindeleddet's diplomundersøkelsen 2011 (eng.: diploma study 2011)
  6. ^ NTNU Bindeleddet's alumniundersøkelsen 2012 (eng.: alumni study 2012)

Further reading[edit]