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The History Of Operations Management Essay

4735 words - 19 pages

The field of Operations emerged in the 1800’s but with each decade has grown and developed into the technologically advanced field it is today, committed to producing innovative quality products and services. According to Heizer & Render (2008) Operations Management is “the set of activities that creates value in the form of goods and services by transforming inputs into outputs.”
This paper examines the evolution of Operations management and its various contributors, from the early concepts where the focus was on cost and includes, the scientific and mass production era to focusing on quality and the lean production era. The final section of this paper focuses on customization in the mass ...view middle of the document...

(as cited in Beardshaw & Brewster et al (2001)
Smith noted that with specialization each labourer is able to produce 2400 time as much as each working separately without specialization and separation. (Niederhoffer, 2006) He believed that specialization led to:
a. increased skill in workers who with repetition of one particular task became expert in that area.
b. time saved since the person who becomes skilled will be able to perform the task more quickly.
c. An increase in the use of machinery
d. Increased skill and time saved would lead to an increase in productivity.

STANDARDIZED PARTS (Eli Whitney 1765-1825)

Standardized parts are almost identical, made that way so that they are interchangeable and can fit into any device of the same type. This was developed around 1798 by Eli Whitney who recognized that if one part can replace another, allowing for easy assembly of the new part without each replacement or new part having to be custom made to fit the device, the time and skill needed to do this task would be greatly minimized. Whitney used the concept of standardized parts to build ten guns which contained the same parts and mechanism. He took the parts to the US congress where he reassembled them. The congress was so impressed that an order was given for all US equipment to have these interchangeable parts.


Kreitner & Kinicki ( 2008) describes scientific management as: “using research and experimentation to find the most efficient way to perform a job”. It was conceptualized by Frederick Taylor and involves five steps:

Use time and motion studies to develop standard methods for performing tasks.

Select employees with the necessary abilities to perform these tasks

Train the employees in the standard methods

Lend support to the workers and reduce any interruptions that would prevent the workers from performing the tasks.

Provide incentives that would help to reinforce performance.

Contributions to this era which are Gantt Charts, Motion and Time Studies, Process Analysis and The Queuing Theory.

GANTT CHARTS (Charles Gantt: (1861 – 1919)


Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer and management consultant, developed the Gantt charts in the 1910’s. The charts were designed to show the progression of a project. The horizontal axis of the chart shows the time scale for the expected completion of the project and the vertical refers to the tasks to be done or that have already been complete. The horizontal rows of bars show the beginning and ending date of each task in the project.

MOTION & TIME STUDIES (Frank B. Gilbreth (1868 -1924)

Frank B. Gilbreth was born July, 7 1868 in Fairfield, Maine U.S.A. His professions included bricklayer, building contractor and management engineer. In his capacity as a bricklayer he observed that other bricklayers had their individual ways of working that were not duplicated by...

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