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MGMT 663

The course has the following major goals:

  • To introduce important tools to analyze the effect of variability . Specifically, students will be exposed to Extend simulation and analytical tools from Factory Physics.

  • To examine important sources of variability and their disruptive effect on processes . For example, we examine the effect of random order arrivals, setups and batching, random process times, and machines failures.

  • To examine several modern approaches for improving processes. Specifically, we will study the basics of cellular manufacturing and Toyota Production System.

  • To understand the effect of the decisions related with design and manufacture of the product on the marketing strategy of the firm.


The course will first look at processes inside a service/manufacturing operation where a request/unit has to go through several steps before it becomes a finished unit. Variability at different steps increases the expected length and the variability of the process lead-time. How to effectively manage the variability in a process depends on the "nature" and the "source" of variability. The variability in a process can be "controllable" such as the one due to mix of products that the process makes or batch sizes that the process uses, or it can be "uncontrollable" such as the one due to random machines failures.

Irrespective of the nature and the source of variability, the effect can be highly disruptive. The management needs to improve the processes to either reduce the variability (e.g., use of preventive maintenance to reduce incidences of machine failures, use of better raw materials to reduce variability in process times) or take actions to reduce the impact of variability (e.g., use of inventory buffers, increased resource flexibility, use of effective information and product flows). Uses of principals of the Toyota Production System, cellular manufacturing, and risk pooling can be very effective in improving processes.

Having examined the process lead-time, the course will then examine the processes for development of products . The cost of making even small changes later in the design process can be very high

Job Titles that Involve Topics Studied:

  • Plant Manager
  • Process Analyst