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Operation Managers: Eli Whitney and Others

Eli Whitney was an American inventor and industrialist. He invented the cotton-cleaning machine (cotton-gin), was one of the first to design the milling machine, and laid the foundation for mass production in mechanical engineering. He was also interested in the construction and modification of weapons. Eli Whitney saw the potential benefit of developing interchangeable parts for American military firearms. In January 1798, Whitney entered a contract with the U.S. government to deliver 10,000 muskets in 1800 (Chedzey, 2018). He also begins organizing new production based on a combination of machine power, the division of labor, and the principle of interchangeability, which Whitney devoted the rest of his life to popularizing.

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Before Whitney, muskets were made individually, with parts of one gun often not matching the size of another. The principle of interchangeability required that all parts be mass-produced, with the precision to assemble products from parts of different batches. Whitney used new metalworking techniques en masse to reduce the skill requirements of workers. Although the inventor was eight years late in completing the order, he created a new production system and completed the following order – for 15,000 muskets – in two years (Oakland et al., 2020). While the use of new machines and the division of labor can be seen in many documents, some scholars believe that Whitney was unsuccessful in achieving interchangeability in production.

Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American engineer, researcher, and organizer of management, and the founder of the scientific organization of labor and management of enterprises – management. Taylor is considered the founder of the scientific labor organization as a discipline. Since 1895 he has begun widely known research on the organization of work and productivity. The purpose of these studies was to profit by maximizing labor intensity. Taylor’s system, later called “Taylorism” was initially based on a deep division of labor and rationalization of labor activities (Schachter, 2018). He developed methods by which each type of work, with the help of timekeeping and careful study of the worker’s movements, established a single way to perform a given work.

Taylor’s theory of work organization is a system of original interconnected provisions and principles of increasing the efficiency of workers’ labor activity through improving social organization. Criticizing traditional principles of organization and management that did not consider the peculiarities of human nature, Taylor based his theory on his original ideas about human nature, human relationships, and human behavior. Taylor suggested that it was not technology and economics but the management of people that was the main factor influencing efficiency, and that was the main problem with the American economy.

Henry Gantt is an American engineer, mechanic, and management expert, best known as the creator of the Gantt Chart. His approach has been used in many of the most important engineering projects of modern times. For example, it was used to construct the Hoover Dam and the Interstate highway system. The system is still relevant today. There are several different schemes under the general name of “Gantt Charts” (Heizer et al., 2020). Henry first began using the graphical way of presenting information when reporting to his superiors about his work. This way, his superiors could always quickly see how the amount of work already done related to the established plans.

Diagrams turned out to be incredibly useful – now, almost all project management systems can create them. Another essential idea of Gantt was the great importance of the human factor (Robles, 2018). Henry repeatedly noted that the worker should be provided not only adequate pay for his work but also the opportunity to derive satisfaction from his work. Many believe that Gantt was one of the founders of fundamentally new, more humane production and management principles. He is also credited with some unusual ideas on the proper setting of tasks and compelling personnel motivation.

Walter Andrew Shewhart was an American physicist, engineer, statistician, teacher, and consultant in quality management. He is also called the father of statistical control (management) because he revolutionized process control and quality improvement (Jalnasow, 2019). He is also the co-author of the Shewhart-Deming cycle and the author of one of the seven quality tools, the control chart. The purpose of control charts is to find unnatural changes in data for repetitive processes and to provide criteria for identifying deficiencies in statistical control. Once this acceptable level of variability is determined, any variation is considered the result of special causes that should be identified, removed, or mitigated.

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In 1931 Shewhart published a report on the use of control charts and the first book, The Economic Management of Industrial Quality. The year 1939 was a special date in the biography of Professor Rutgers University (Hodges, 2019). That was when his second book, The Statistical Method from the Quality Control Perspective, was published. At the end of the decade, Shewhart summarized the results of work on the statistical method of quality control of production and technological processes and on this basis to ensure the quality of manufactured products. Largely thanks to Shewhart’s findings, the statistical concept of Six Sigma was realized.

References

Chedzey, C.S. (2018). Science in management: Some applications of operational research and computer science. Routledge. Web.

Heizer, J., Render, B., & Munson, C. (2020). Operations management: Sustainability and supply chain management. Pearson. Web.

Hodges, J. L. (2019) Classes. In: Software engineering from scratch. Apress. Web.

Jalnasow, D. (2019). The introduction of system approach in quality management in XX century. Entrepreneurship, 1(2), 193-204. Web.

Oakland, J. S., Oakland, R. J., & Turner, M. A. (2020). Total quality management and operational excellence: Text with cases (5th Ed.). Routledge. Web.

Robles, V. D. (2018). Visualizing certainty: What the cultural history of the Gantt chart teaches technical and professional communicators about management. Technical communication quarterly, 27(4), 300-321. Web.

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Schachter, H. L. (2018). Labor at the Taylor Society: Scientific management and a proactive approach to increase diversity for effective problem-solving. Journal of management history, 24(1), 7-19. Web.

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