Analysis of Work Methods in Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Globalisation leading to increased lead-time pressure within engineering departments put demands on efficient human work processes. The trend is towards co-located, cross-functional teams, but also towards geographically dispersed organisations, and collaboration among specialists over not only departmental boundaries, but also across company boundaries. As new possibilities arise to cope with problems regarding integration, new problems emerge from the new work forms. Co-ordination of work in large groups, communication between team members that are unable to meet face-to-face, and the development of efficient overall work methods that permit distributed work in teams are such problems. The need for improved work methods is indisputable, but it takes a thorough knowledge in a number of work method aspects to change existing ways of working. Several management programmes, such as Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and process innovation, builds on the belief that work processes should be developed anew from a blank sheet of paper. Recent re-search shows that such strategies are associated with high risks.
A methodology is presented which facilitates analysis of work methods in manufacturing systems engineering. The methodology is called Systems Engineering Process Analysis methodology (SEPAM), and is a collection of methods aiming to illuminate important aspects of the systems engineering (SE) process. SEPAM investigates the major features of the SE process; use of methods, models, and tools; information flow and communication; work products related to systems engineering; and project management in the SE process. A general feature is the user-based approach, which focuses on practitioner involvement in the data collection and validation phases. Outlines of a synthesis methodology called Off-line Preparation (OLPrep) is also presented, showing a way to further detail the SEPAM analysis and develop work methods in collaboration with operative personnel.
Results are presented from use of the SEPAM as well as the OLPrep methodology in the Swedish automotive industry. The results show the benefits of a structured analysis in combination with learning among practitioners facilitated through the development of a shared view on future changes to the manufacturing system and products.
systems engineering process