The process industries are those industries where the primary production processes are either continuous, or occur on a batch of materials that is indistinguishable. For example, a food processing company making sauce may make the sauce in a continuous, uninterrupted flow from receipt of ingredients through packaging. Or batches may be produced depending on the cook kettle sizes but immediately combined and re-routed. In either case, there is no concept of a unit of sauce while it is being processed. Examples of the process industries include food, beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petroleum, ceramics, base metals, coal, plastics, rubber, textiles, tobacco, wood and wood products, paper and paper products, etc.
For more on the role of industrial engineering in process industries, read "Making Cereal Not Cars," a primer on process industries. This article was published in the December 2008 issue of Industrial Engineer magazine and is available only to IISE members. If you are not a member, join IISE for access to this article as well as additional member-only benefits.
Applying industrial engineering tools in the process industries can vary greatly from applying these same tools in discrete parts manufacturing. The Process Industries Division is a forum for the exchange of ideas in theory and practice of industrial engineering techniques applied to process industries; facilitating greater interactions among industry and academic professionals by organizing.
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