A brief story of industrial engineering
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. Wells
One of the firste engineers in this world may well have been a fellow by the name of Joe Ogg. He is the lead character in a cartoon film  produced for the Institute of Industrial Engineers depicting primitive attempts at industrial organization. The film introduces concepts such as specialization of labor, methods study, material handling, and quality control with respect to the production of arrows and hides. Ogg’s son, Junior, emerges as a hero because his radical concepts are readily accepted by his peers, and the fruits of their efforts immediately validate his approach. This could only happen in the movies.
In contrast, Sprague de Camp states [27, p.13], “The story of civilization is, in a sense, the story of engineering-that long and arduous struggle to make the forces of nature work for man’s good”. In this sense, it is obvious that engineering ia as old as civilization itself. What may not be readily apparent is that although industrial engineering is the newest of the major fields of engineering (i.e., civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering),fundamental principles of industrial engineering were employed in the age of Ogg.
Throughout history, engineering works have often been taken for granted. In 1514 Pope Paul III was faced with the problem of replacing the architect Bramante after his death during the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Cathredal. An artist and engioneer by the name of Michelangelo Buonarroti, known to us today as Michelangelo, was selected to see the project through to conclusion. How many of us today think of Michelangelo as an engineer? His work in completing St. Peter’s Cathredal is well known. It is less kown, however, that in Florence, and again in Rome, he was called on to design fortifications for the city. After building them, since he was convinced the fortifications would not hold because of the incompetence of the defenders, he slipped through the lines of the attacking enemy. This show that in addition to being one of our heroes he was very human. Michelangelo was a stubborn individualist, and his face was disfigures by a broken nose he received in a fight with a fellow sculptor.
Another of Michelangelo’s many enemies was Leonardo da Vinci. Like Michelangelo, da Vinci is best known for his artistic endeavors; however, he was an active, almost continuously absorbed scholar. He tried to master astronomy, anatomy,aeronautics, botany, geology, geography, genetics, and physics. His studies of physics represented a broad coverage of what was known at the time. He had a scientific curiosity that got him into trouble on occasion. He was dismissed by Pope Leo X when the Pope was informed that da Vinci was learning human anatomy by dissecting the real thing. From a purely scientific point of view, what beter way is there to learn human anatomy.
In 1483 da Vinci moved to Milan,and he submitted the following resume to Duke Lodovico Sforza in the hope of gaining emoployment [27, pp.363-364]: 1
Having, My Most Illustrious Lord, seen and now sufficiently considered the proofs of those who consider themselves masters and designers of instruments of war and that the design and operation of said instruments is not different from those in common use, I will endeavor without injury to anyone to make myself understood by your Excellency, making known my own secrets and offering thereafter at your pleasure, and at the proper time, to put into effect all those things which for brevity are in part noted below-and many more, according to the exigencies of the different cases.
I can construct bridges very light and strong, and acapable of easy transportation, and with them pursue on or occasion flee from the enemy, and still others safe and capable of resisting fire and attack, and easy and convenient to place and remove; and have methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
A know how, in a place under siege, to remove the water from the moats………………………………..
Duke Lodovico Sforza evidently was not impressed and did not hire da Vinci after reading his resume. Da Vinci was later commissioned by the duke as the result of association da Vinci had with another artist. However, the duke had a habit of paying late, if at all, which resulted in da Vinci’s quitting once, but he considered later.
Leonardo da Vinci was one of great geniuses of all time. He anticipated many engineering developments that were to follow, such as steam engine, machine gun, camera, submarine, and helicopter. However, he probably had a little influenceof engineering thought at the time. His research was unpublished mishmash of thoughts and sketches. He was an impulsive researcher and never summarized his research for the benefit of others through publication. His research was recorded from right to left in his notebooks, possibly for ease of writing because he was left-handed.
Many years later in 1795, Napoleon authorized the establishment of the Ecole Polytechniqure in Paris, which become the first engineering school. Rensselaer Polutechnic Institute, founded in 1824, was the first engineering school in the United States.
Until 1880 engineering was either civil or millitary and for all but the last 100 years was both. In 1880 the American Society of Mechanical Engineers was founded, followed by the the American Society of Electrical Engineers in 1884 and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1908. The American Institute of Industrial Engineers, representing the last major field of engineering to become organized, was incorporated in 1948.
It is difficult to say when industrial engineering began. Certainly in the age of Ogg there were production problems associated with making arrows that have their parallel today. If the individual in a toy factory today most concerned with how to make arows is an industrial engineer, does that mean that when Ogg was deciding how to make arrows he was doing industrial engineering? The basic what, how, where, and when questions of production analysis have characterized this approach for centuries.
Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations  published in 1776 was one of the first works promoting “specialization labor” to improve productivity. He observed in pin making that the division of task into four separate operations increased output by a factor of almost five. Whereas one worker performing all the operations produced 1000 pins per day, ten workers employed on four more specialized tasks could produce 48,000 pins per day. The concept of designing a process to use the work force efficiently had arrived.
It should be noted, however, that what worked for one process (e.g., pin manufacture) in 1776 may not work well for a similar process today. Manufacturing cells, for example, in coomon use today represent a reversal of this same concept (i.e., de-departementalization of processes), whereby a manufacturing cell permits in integrated processing of all materials for a product within a single area of the plant. Such de-departementalization greatly reduces the material handling cost of the product during its manufacture, inventory costs, and throughput time, and creates a sense of ownership among those producing the product. Determining the best balance of costs in the manufacture of a product is what industrial engineering is all about.
Arround 1800, Matthew Boulton and James Watt, Jr., sons of prominent steam engine developers in England, attemped organizational improvements in their Soho foundry thet were well ahead of their time. Their efforts were pioneering prototypes for industrial engineering thecnique to follow. At about this time, an increasing number of mechanical improvements, such as Arkwright’s spinning jenny, were making a considerable impact on productivit. The industrial revolution of this period was freeing humans and beasts from being sources of power in industry. The development of water and steam power and other mechanical devices is the usual primary connotation given to the term industrial revolution.
In 1832 Charles Babbage, a self-made mathematician, again suggested division of labor for improved productivity in his book On the Economy of Machinery and Manufacturers. In fact, his difference engine, the prototype of the modern mechanical calculator, was conceived after he heard about French attempts to produce handbook tables by dividing the calculation task into small steps requiring simple operations. Later, he created his analytical engine, which was a mechanical prototype of our modern computers. His difference engine was never completed in his lifetime; the British government abandoned the project after he had spent ₤ 17,000 in development. Babbage, like Leonardo da Vinci, was a tireless researcher who had little patience in completing what he had already conceived. Babbage was also aware of the need for improved organization in industry; he toured a number of plants in England and the Continent in the hope of improving his knowledge of the “mechanical art.”
After the American Revolution, there was a considerable demand in the United States for muskets, and independence made it possible to produce manufactures goods. Eli Whitney found backers to support the concept of manufacturing interchangable parts in producing muskets. However, his backers became quite impatient when, after a considerable time had elapsed and much money had been spent, they learned he was still making tools to make parts. Eventually, however, his efforts did produce cheap, interchangeable pasrts in large quantities. The concept, which is readily accepted today, of producing a set of dies to produce a million parts cheaply was simply not understood at the time. Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin typifies many highly significant mechanical improvements of the day, but there is s little question that his concept of tooling up for interchangeable parts was the major innovation of that period.
Arround the turn of this century, Henry Ford, on observing carcasses on a moving slat conveyor in a slaughterhouse, got the idea for progressive assembly of automobiles by use of conveyors. Conveyors are so much a part of our industrial heritage that it becomes necessary in an industrial engineering course dealing with materials handling to offer a case study for which the use of conveyors is a poor choice of approach. This shock seems necessary to convince studebts that conveyors help most of the time but not all of time; in fact, in many Just-In-Tiem (JIT) installations today, conveyor removal becomes part of the plan. There is little question that the mass production of Ford automobiles gave considerable impetus to the mass production concept in the United States.