Operations management is one of the management fields which are increasingly becoming relevant in the competitive business environment. Brown, Bessant, and Lamming (2013) define operations management as an “area of management concerned with designing and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in the production of goods or services” (p. 41). It emphasizes the need to improve efficiency in operations to ensure that few resources are used to meet goals and objectives of a business entity. Goverde et al. (2016) argue that this area of management also focuses on the elimination of all forms of waste in an organizational setting. It is important to investigate the relevance of operations management to the field of the transport system. Major cities around the world such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Dubai, and Riyadh have experienced a massive increase in population. Movement of people and goods from one place to another is a major issue of concern in these cities. Cases of traffic jams, ineffective means of transportation and the inability to meet all the transportation demands of people is a major issue as the population continues to grow. Operations management is viewed as a tool that can help transport companies to improve their services within their market.
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Analysis of Articles, Connection, and Importance to Operations Management
It was important to identify specific articles that focus on this topic and analyze them to understand how operations management can help in improving services offered by the transport companies. The article by Aps, Fetissov, Goerlandt, Helferichc, Koptia, and Kujala (2015) focuses on improving the efficiency and safety of marine transport in the Baltic Sea, especially in the Gulf of Finland. These scholars observe that marine transport has become increasingly important in the Gulf of Finland and the entire region. Activities at the major harbors in the region have been on the rise. As individual transport companies struggle to increase their market share, the issue of safety is becoming a major concern.
These authors observe that the introduction of the Gulf of Finland Mandatory Ship Reporting System (GOFREP) was an initiative by the regional authorities to improve the safety of cargo, passengers, and transport equipment (Aps et al., 2015). The system sets standards that must be observed by individual companies operating in the region. The authors argue that individual companies have a responsibility to set their higher standards in line with government regulations to improve their operational efficiency. They suggest the use of the Systems Theoretic Accident Models and Processes (STAMP) as means of achieving efficiency (Aps et al., 2015). Their model is effective when used at organizational-level other than at the level of industry.
The article by Aps et al. (2015) is connected to operations management. The proposed model (STAMP) is based on the principles of operational management. It highlights the importance of efficient operations when trying to improve safety and security of the transport system. According to Goverde et al. (2016), a significant number of accidents at sea are often caused by the carelessness of captains and poor maintenance of the transport vessel. When the management embraces principles of operations management, such mistakes are often eliminated. All vessels are inspected for any defect before being released from ports. Captains and their crew members will be taken through proper training to ensure that they understand what is expected of them and remain committed to their work every time they embark on a journey from one port to another.
The article by Ando, Fujihara, Fujihashi, Endo, Kuroda, and Kobayashi (2018) focused on improving community bus operation management system. The Tsushima area of Ehime Prefecture Uwajima City had been experiencing a rapid increase in population and customers in the transport sector were demanding a system that would experience their experience (Ando et al., 2018). As such, stakeholders developed a bus operation management system in 2013 to address concerns of customers (Ando et al., 2018). The new system has the capacity of informing customers the location of their preferred bus and the number of passengers so that they can plan for their trips effectively. The software was used on tablets and Android phones. It was a classic case of developing a solution without a clear understanding of the problem that needs to be solved. Brown et al. (2013) note that before coming up with a new product, it is important to understand needs of customers to ensure that the new service provided meets their requirement. In this case, as evident in the article, customers needed software that would not simply tell the location and the number of passengers on board. They also needed a platform through which they could book their preferred seats as they wait for the bus to arrive. The article looked at these design weaknesses of the software and ways in which they could be addressed.
The article is closely connected to and demonstrates the importance of operations management. Brown et al. (2013) explain that in operations management, efficiency is determined by identifying and eliminating specific issues that limit the ability to achieve success. Not all improvements can be considered desirable. The limited resources available for every company means that every initiative must be carefully planned for to achieve the desired goals. All projects must be classified hierarchically based on their importance. The level of importance is often determined by how well a given initiative addresses concerns of customers and that of the company. In this case, the initiative was taken to address concerns of customers. However, the approach taken was poor because major issues were ignored. The ability of customers to determine the location of their bus was one issue. The next issue was the possibility of booking for a seat just to ensure that they will not be left by the bus because of overcapacity. They will be assured that the arriving bus will take them to their desired destination. As Goverde et al. (2016) emphasize, these are issues that should not be ignored in an organization that is keen on improving the efficiency of its operations.
The article by Corman, D’Ariano, Marra, Pacciarelli, and Samà (2017) looked at how to integrate railway network operation management in Europe. The rail transport system in Europe is crucial in enabling mass movement of people from one location to another, especially in major cities. The authors of the article observed that one of the current challenges is that the rail traffic management system is majorly performed by human controllers. Despite the massive modernization that has been witnessed in this area of transport, traffic control still relies on human labor (Goverde et al., 2016). The problem, as Albrecht and Dasigi (2016) observe, is that human controllers are less efficient in managing some of the modern high-speed trains. They are also more prone to making mistakes compared with computer managed systems. A simple mistake committed by the traffic controller may have devastating consequences on the transport vessel, passengers, and cargo. An integrated system based on the emerging technologies can help eliminate errors common when using human labor. The article identifies challenges of coordinating human controllers in the rail traffic system.
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According to Goverde et al. (2016), operations management emphasizes the need to embrace emerging technologies where possible as a way of improving efficiency. Human beings can make errors, especially when exhausted. However, computers can work efficiently as long as they are programmed in the right way. In such technology-based systems, human labor is only used to supervise the system and to ensure that any necessary changes are effected as would be required. The article emphasizes the relevance of operations management in improving traffic control in Europe’s rail system, especially in the metro systems in major cities such as Paris, London, and Berlin. The number of passengers and the size of cargo using the system on a regular basis require a flawless system to enhance safety.
Personal Reflection and the Debate
The transport sector plays a critical role in the socio-economic development, and it is crucial to ensure that it remains efficient. The articles above have identified three main sub-sectors (road, rail, and marine) in the transport sector. In the United Arab Emirates, these three transport systems are crucial in enabling people and goods to move from one place to another. My personal experiences closely reflect challenges that these articles have talked about. I have been using Dubai Bus for some time and the introduction of the messaging system to know the timing and route of buses was a major milestone. The system empowered customers of Dubai Bus as they could plan properly after receiving the message about the time they should be at the bus station. As Ando et al. (2018) observe in their article, this improvement in services offered by the community bus service gave rise to a new need. In Dubai, we need a system that can enable us to pay for the bus fare electronically, especially among regular users of these services. It is an example of a concerted effort that stakeholders in the transport sector are putting in place to improve the experience of customers.
I have also used the Dubai Metro, the rail system that has gained massive popularity because of the level of technology it has embraced. I prefer using the train to the business because it is more efficient than buses. The article by Albrecht and Dasigi (2016) emphasized the need for European rail systems to be fully automated to eliminate or significantly reduce reliance on human labor. Dubai Metro System is a perfect example of the efficiency of a fully automated rail transit system. As Brown et al. (2013) observe, all trains in the Dubai Metro are fully automated. I enjoy using them because they are timely, predictable, and customer-centric. Customers have understood the system and rarely waste time in boarding and alighting from the train. They know that the system is time-specific hence everyone is keen on taking quick actions when using these services. I believe major cities around the world need a similar system to ease traffic jams and improve the experience of customers in the transport sector.
Recommendations for Improving Ideas Discussed
According to Brown et al. (2013), one of the most important factors that define the level of development of any given city is its transport infrastructures. Governments around the world are spending billions of dollars to improve movement of people from place to place using rail, road, water, and air transport. However, major cities around the world are still affected by problems such as traffic jams, constant road accidents, inefficient rail transport systems, and insecure marine transport. The identified articles have discussed major issues that affect the transport sector in different parts of the world. They have also discussed strategies that are currently in use to address the problem. The following recommendations should be taken into consideration to help in improving the ideas discussed:
- Addressing challenges in the transport sector require a multi-stakeholder approach. The government, companies offering the transport services, customers using these services, and all other stakeholders should be involved when coming up with major changes and improvements in the transport sector.
- It is important to embrace technology when the primary focus is to improve efficiency in the transport sector. Technology not only cuts the cost of operation but also eliminates human error.
- Creativity and innovativeness play a central role in enhancing the quality of services offered by companies in the transport sector. Customers should be able to determine the location of their preferred buses, understand the routes they will take, and be able to pay electronically. These services can be made available through emerging technologies.
Albrecht, T., & Dasigi, M. (2016). On‐time: A framework for integrated railway network operation management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Ando, K., Fujihara, Y., Fujihashi, T., Endo, K., Kuroda, H., & Kobayashi, S. (2018). Improvement of community bus operation management system. Modern Approaches for Intelligent Information and Database Systems, 769(1), 329-340.
Aps, R., Fetissov, M., Goerlandt, F., Helferichc, J., Koptia, M., & Kujala, P. (2015). Towards STAMP-based dynamic safety management of eco-socio-technical maritime transport system. Procedia Engineering, 128(1), 64-73.
Brown, S., Bessant, J., & Lamming, R. (2013). Strategic operations management (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Corman, F., D’Ariano, A., Marra, A., Pacciarelli, D., & Samà, M. (2017). Integrating train scheduling and delay management in real-time railway traffic control. Logistics and Transportation Review, 105(1), 213-239.
Goverde, R., Bešinović, N., Binder, A., Cacchiani, V., Quaglietta, E., Roberti, R., … Tothc, P. (2016). A three-level framework for performance-based railway timetabling. Emerging Technologies, 67(1), 62-83.