Human Performance in Planning and Scheduling

By Bart MacCarthy; John Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE

The Human Contribution to Planning, Scheduling and Control in Manufacturing Industry-Background and Context

Bart MacCarthy and John Wilson


1.1

INTRODUCTION

This book is concerned with the reality of planning, scheduling and control in contemporary industrial and business organisations. These tend to be critical business processes that occur at the heart of an organisation and are key to what makes the organisation tick. They link customers with the primary manufacturing resources, balance the conflicting constraints on, and competition for these resources, and shoulder overall responsibility for meeting demands. Planning and scheduling comprise technical, organisational and human aspects. At their core are the people who manage and facilitate these processes in dynamic environments and ultimately 'make it happen'. Central to this book is the view that industrial practice and performance cannot be understood, nor can more effective processes be designed, implemented and managed without taking a holistic view of planning, scheduling and control processes.

The book brings together an international group of authors conducting leading-edge research with industry. One of its strengths is that evidence from real industrial practice is emphasised throughout. The sectors covered include automotive, aerospace and a number of engineering industries, PCB assembly, steel, textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals, printing, furniture manufacture and process industries. Empirical data from over thirty organisations are referred to directly across the contributions and many of the studies are backed up by more extensive fieldwork. Many of the conclusions are based on in-depth longitudinal investigations, a number having been conducted over several years. Studies range from the largest international businesses to small and medium-sized enterprises.

A purely technical view of planning and scheduling has been dominant for many years. Thus it may be surprising to some that a book on the subject should contain so few equations. There is little formal mathematics in the contributions here and what there is does not relate specifically to combinatorial optimisation-the main branch of mathematics employed in scheduling theory (French, 1982; Morton and Pentico, 1993; Pinedo, 1994) and the cornerstone of an extensive research literature on scheduling since the classic book by Baker (1974). The reason for the lack of prominence of mathematics is not to make the subject more

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