It makes sense to discuss manufacturing issues and techniques within the context of project management. Many high-volume manufacturing organizations have an increasingly project-oriented focus in which cross-functional teams are tasked with developing shorter life-cycle products (e.g., in the auto, microelectronics, or consumer appliance industries). Conversely, many one-off or low volume technology projects, such as shipbuilding, satellites or power plant construction, are being transformed by production methods borrowed from "lean manufacturing" as practiced by companies such as Toyota.
As such, this book provides a very good introductory reference to the management-related methods and issues that span these diverse manufacturing/technology domains. The writing is concise. The content is comprehensive and upto-date, with ten chapters that include management theory, activity network techniques, resource allocation, economic concepts, forecasting, data analysis, and simulation. The author describes but does not overly emphasize any of the "alphabet soup" of buzzwords and dogma that permeate much of the manufacturing management literature (ABC, CIM, CAD, etc.) Most notably, the excellent case studies in every chapter highlight the practical project issues that every manager must face.
Perhaps endemic to the pedagogy of manufacturing management, however, is a certain gap between the academic and practitioner-derived materials presented in this book. It is unclear from the text, for example, to what extent industry managers have actually used the many quantitative techniques for learning curves, forecasting, or resource allocation described here. Many of these techniques are not reflected in the case studies offered to the reader, confirming the impression that "common sense" and expediency usually limit their industry application. Also, while this text is very useful as a stand-alone reference for students or engineering managers, much of the content overlaps that of many introductory textbooks in production operations management, engineering economics, or industrial statistics. While these topics are well summarized here, they are not integrated in any unique way that might be suggested by the book's title. What is unique -- and what would particularly recommend the book as a text for project management -- is their juxtaposition with the case studies. The closing chapter's case study on the Challenger space shuttle disaster is fascinating, and essential reading for any would-be project manager.
Copyright Institute of Industrial Engineers Fall 1996
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Source: Project Management in Manufacturing and High Technology Operations (2nd Edition)