Trending @IIE

The November issue sparked a lot of interest, including more views on the proposed IIE name change. The correspondence here covers lean, telefacturing, industrial engineering's intellectual future and IIE's brand management. The comments from Jack ReVelle, a keynote speaker for the 2016 IIE Annual Conference, are part of an interview on the conference website 


Converting production to storage is not the goal of lean manufacturing

Raj Sanne nicely described the successful planning and implementation of a factory floor re-layout ("Cellular Compression," November). The purpose, however – consolidating a five-cell configuration to three cells – goes starkly against best practices in lean manufacturing.

The unnamed company's main objective was to meet sales growth by converting production space to additional storage for incoming and in-house fabricated components. To any lean adherent, however, adding storage space is anathema, and sales growth spells opportunities:

Purchasing: This gives us more clout with suppliers – greater volumes to justify shipping daily in small quantities, some suppliers joining up with others on our daily "breadman" transport routes.

Quality: With increased volume it makes sense to have key suppliers certify quality, so incoming materials can go directly from the dock to the line. Production: We can give our fast-growing SKUs their own dedicated cells with no (or minimal) slowdowns for changeovers.

Material handling: Higher volumes pave the way to kanban – eliminate storage of fabricated parts by simple kanban transfers from fabrication to assembly cells.

Industrial engineering: And why reduce the number of cells? My article in the February 2015 issue of Industrial Engineer – "Planning for Concurrent Production" – is all about increasing numbers of cells or production lines so that multiple end products can be made simultaneously in synch with real customer demand. That's much preferable to extending customer lead-times by having work-in-process sitting in production queues waiting for their turn to be assembled.

Richard J. Schonberger
Independent researcher/author/speaker
Bellevue, Washington

A pleasant surprise for exciting breakthroughs

I just received the November issue of IE magazine and was pleasantly surprised to see telefacturing as the cover article ("Telefacturing – A Paradigm for the 21st Century"). More importantly, I was honored to see your [Editor's Desk column] on the subject of telefacturing ("Separation for the Future").

All this attention that you have devoted to this article represents your deep understanding and appreciation of the fact that this is a revolution about to take place in the industrial world. I cannot admire and thank you more for what you have done. For years IE magazine has been primarily publishing on the usual and mundane subjects related to marginal efficiency improvement, and then you take over with the courage and foresight to reflect the exciting world of breakthrough changes resulting from implementation of technologies of the future.

My wholehearted kudos to you.

Behrokh Khoshnevis
Dean's Professor of Engineering
University of Southern California
Los Angeles

Securing the intellectual future of industrial engineering

IE colleagues, please let me contribute to the raging debate about changing the name of IIE but from a different angle ("Name Recognition," November). The fact is that a rose by any other name is still a rose and still smells the same. I am not adding to the long-running argument one way or the other. I have done enough of that in my previous writings in the IIE member magazine over the years (February 2003, Page 8; July 2003, Page 26; June 2007, Page 10; April 2015, Page 10; December 1999, Page 6).

My appeal to all now is to help secure the intellectual future of industrial engineering through action rather than talk. The vibrancy and health of professional organizations depends on how securely the organizations anchor themselves to their intellectual foundations. About two years ago, we announced the IE Academic Genealogy project (February 2014) for the purpose of anchoring IE's intellectual foundations.

While several IEs have answered the call to enter their information into the database, the overall response has been miniscule compared to the potential. If you believe fervently that IE should have a vibrant future, as we all claim in our name-change debates, then we should act by responding to the call. If this letter to the editor arouses your interest, please visit to see how you can help secure the intellectual foundation of industrial engineering.

We need industrial engineering to survive not just in the correct name, but also in relevance, recognition and respect. The IE academic genealogy database can help. Thank you.

Adedeji Badiru
Dean, Graduate School of Engineering & Management
Air Force Institute of Technology
Dayton, Ohio

Real branding management

Since 1963 when I joined AIIE all the way through today, there has consistently been a major focus by the elected leadership of the institute on "brand management," i.e., the identity of the organization. This resulted in a highly disputed name change in 1981 when "American" was deleted from the name. I recall this quite clearly since I was on the board of trustees at the time.

For many years thereafter, there remained a sizable contingent of the membership who wanted the name change reversed. In recent years there has been a new move to once again change the name by adding "systems." It has been my experience that, generally speaking, industrial engineers are the only people who really understand what industrial engineers do. Adding "systems" to the institute's name will only further confuse non-industrial engineering practitioners.

And consider all the professional societies that already have "systems" embedded in their names. At the very least, by doing the same thing IIE will simply add to the existing confusion. I consider this a pressing challenge. Branding management is too important to be left to the professional academics. Collegiate industrial engineering departments may feel the need to periodically change their names to be more inclusive of the latest fields of study, but business and industrial organizations as well as other engineering societies don't. Societies and institutes much older than IIE haven't wasted their time and money changing their names despite the expanded focus of their memberships.

If the current IIE elected leadership wants to pursue a name change, why not select wording that continues to use the current acronym IIE, e.g., Institute of Improvement Engineers? Alternately, why not recognize the growing influence and involvement of the institute in many other countries by adding "international" to the existing name, i.e., the International Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIIE). Now that's branding management.

Jack ReVelle
Consulting statistician
ReVelle Solutions LLC
Santa Ana, California

Send letters to Michael Hughes at or to IIE, 3577 Parkway Lane, Suite 200, Norcross, GA 30092. Correspondence to the editorial staff is treated as a letter to the editor unless otherwise indicated. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style and clarity. Include your city and state of residence or employment. Letters from anonymous authors will not be published, but we will consider requests to publish letters with the author's name withheld.