Evolution of Production and Operation Management

Operation Management has been variously known as Industrial Management, Management Science, Operation Research, Production management and Production and Operation Management. The concepts associated with Operation Management, perhaps, have their roots embedded in the development of early organizations. The class of problems represented by Operation Management came in the era after Industrial Revolution. This was a period of radical changes. People got replaced by machines and water and mule power replaced human muscular efforts. These developments changed the nature of production. As production moved from the cottage to factory, the seeds of operation management sprouted on fertile ground.

Time and Motion studies - Scientific Management: It has passed through various stages to reach the present stage. Its roots go back to the concept of “division of labor” advocated by Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776. He recognized the economic benefits of specialization of lab our, He recommended breaking the job down into subtasks and reassigning workers to specialized tasks in which they would become highly skilled and efficient. In the early twentieth century, Frederick W. Taylor implemented Smith’s theories and enunciated his theory of “scientific management”. The basis of scientific management was a focus on machines and system of their utilization. This concept led to “time and motion study “Early in the 20th.century , Frank and Lillian Gilbreth developed a more systematic and sophisticated method of time and motion study taking into account the limits to physical and mental capacity and importance of good physical environment. The Hawthorne Studies by Elton Mayo, in 1927, resulted in the Human Resource Movement. These developments changed the way operations were managed in many businesses during that period.

World War II - Operation Research ---1940—1980: Before World War II the focus of ‘scientific management’ was based on the micro-environment in the manufacturing sector. During the war, the focus moved from micro-environment to macro-environment. There was rapid development in the concepts ‘theory and techniques of production and operation management after World War II. The operation Research techniques evolved during defense operations in the World War II found useful operations e.g. linear programming and network analysis.

A new multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving called ‘Operation Research’ was developed. This was quantitative approach basically concerned with the efficient allocation and control of resources. Operation Research is the application of scientific methods to study and devise solutions to managerial problems in decision making using mathematical models and system approach. Operation Research has helped solve resource allocation, scheduling, processing, inventory, location layout and control problems replacement methods, and advent of computers introduced the field of automation. The demand of manpower in defense operations in Second World War necessitated evolving production systems requiring lesser labor force. This resulted in detailed time and motion studies and standard machine tool designs to improve the efficiency of reduced work force.

Where We Stand Today?
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 has expanded considerably. Production and Operation Management has become an empirical science. Undoubtedly, during this period, we have responded to the expansion of markets and large scale business units by using concepts of division of labor and progressive mechanization in order to achieve economies of large scale production. There has been continuous improvement in design, layout and equipment of production processes by:

• With efficient use of labor, material and equipment economies in production.
• Using sophisticated production control techniques to produce goods and services of desired specialization at the desired time and with minimum cost.
• Improvement in production line e.g. automation in industries.


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