Industrial Engineering

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HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING - THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING - THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Even though historians of science and technology continue to argue about when industrial engineering began, there is a general consensus that the empirical roots of the profession date back to the Industrial Revolution, which began in England during the mideighteenth century. The events of this era dramatically changed manufacturing practices and served as the gene- sis for many concepts that influenced the scientific birth of the field a century later. The driving forces behind these developments were the technological innovations that helped mechanize many traditional manual operations in the textile industry. These include the flying shuttle developed by John Kay in 1733, the spinning jenny invented by James Hargreaves in 1765, and the water frame developed by Richard Arkwright in 1769. Perhaps the most important innovation, however, was the steam engine developed by James Watt in 1765. By making steam practical as a power source for a host of applications, Watt’s invention freed manufacturers from their reliance on waterpower, opening up far greater freedom of location and industrial organization. It also provided cheaper power, which led to lower production costs, lower prices, and greatly expanded markets. By facilitating the substitution of capital for labor, these innovations generated economies of scale that made mass production in centralized locations attractive for the first time. The concept of a production system, which lies at the core of modern industrial engineering practice and research, had its genesis in the factories created as a result of these innovations.

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