ARTICLE: Key Topics of Operations Management

Operations management is a prominent discipline of management studies. It is the field of study where we learn about the designing and the controlling of the production process of an organisation. For the production of products or services efficiently the operations managers also have to redesign the processes. The primary focus of operations management is to use limited resources in such a way that the business processes become effective and meet all the requirements of the customers. Usually, the whole production system of a manufacturing unit or a service organisation monitored for obtaining the desired results regarding goods or services.

The operation is an essential department in all manufacturing and service companies, and its primary function is to produce the goods, manage the quality of the produced good or service. There are various sectors where operations management plays a key role to provide the desired outcome such as manufacturing sector companies, banking systems, healthcare organisations, services companies and hospitals etc. An operations manager has to manage the day to day functions of his/her unit and also take care of the strategic objectives of the firm. Preferably the companies design their daily operations in a way so that they achieve the strategic targets of the company in the long run.

The operations management has to take much vital decision for the smooth functioning of the processes like the design of the product and according to that the strategy to produce it with minimal resources. It covers the process designing as per the characteristics of the product or service, making a detailed plan for the facilities, capacity, quality management, overall production planning and inventory control. The management people should be able to analyse the current scenario, and then according to the demand of the service or goods, they should decide upon the most effective and productive solutions to improve the efficiency of the processes. There are several critical topics of operations management which are essential to understanding to gain a sound knowledge of this vital field of study.

THE PRODUCTION SYSTEM

The production system of an organisation comprises of both the organisational behaviour concepts such as information flow and division of labour and the technological aspects such as the tools and machines to be used in the process. The production system has two main categories where the first is a continuous production process and the second is a discrete part production system.

•    The Continuous Process Production System
This is the production system which encompasses the whole process of the chemical as well as physical changes under which the raw material has to go through. The inputs become produced goods, and these goods cannot be transformed back to the raw material as there has been a complete transformation in its physical appearance and chemical composition. The examples of such products are cement, petroleum products, and paper etc.

•    The Discrete Part Production
This production system makes use of both the assembly line and the fabrication system. The examples of the fabrication system are manufacturing units or cells, transfer lines, and job shops etc. But when we talk about the assembly line system, it comprises a fixed position system.

EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS METRICS

There is a significant concern of the operations managers, and that is increasing the efficiency of the procedures. A fruitful operations strategy is made by taking decisions regarding the use of the company’s productive resources so that the long-term objectives of the firm can be achieved as it is planned. This is done with the help of two metrics which are efficiency metrics and the effectiveness metrics.

•    Effectiveness metrics: The productivity is used as the evaluation criteria for checking the effectiveness of the specific process or procedure of the production system.
•    Efficiency metrics: The efficiency metrics of a production system involve the specifications about the quality of the product, the total time required to complete the whole process, a price which includes the calculation of costs also, the availability of the stocks and flexibility of the procedures. The impact of the operations on the environment is also assessed in the efficiency metrics.

MANAGEMENT AND CONFIGURATION

The technological and the organisational variable are included while designing and configuring a production system. There are several choices of production technology from which a manager can choose the most suitable one according to his business. These technologies are capacity location, the techniques for making the processes automated, the outsourcing of the some of the methods, the technology used for a single process, etc. If we talk about the management aspect of the configuration of the production system, then it will include the delegation of the tasks as per the skills and competencies of the workers, coordination among the teams, the smooth flow of information and the incentives for the workers to keep them motivated.

SERVICE OPERATIONS

The service sector is known as the tertiary sector because it is the third of the three economic sectors. The primary sector includes the raw material s and inputs to produce a good or service. The secondary sector is the manufacturing one where the raw material is transformed into the finished goods, and the third is the service sector. Here rather than producing end products at the end of the production process, the companies create services.

The services can be defined as the intangible goods such as an experience, advice, attention, and discussion etc. The final consumers of the services can be individuals or the other economies also. In this sector, the primary focus is on the providing an experience to the customers instead than transforming the physical goods. The examples of the service industry are like restaurants, hotels, retailing and entertainment etc. The services cannot be made ahead of time as it is done in case of goods production where the goods can be made ahead and stored for later use. The services are created in front of customers, and their participation in this process is essential.

RISK, SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE

The operations management also has to design the maintenance policies, active systems for the safety management for reducing the risk of accidents and other mishappenings in the manufacturing area or the company. They also have to train the employees to stick to the safety measures and guidelines provided by them.