IIE Annual Conference blogging – Monday sessions

Industrial Engineering in the “Talent Age”
• The “Talent Age” started around 2000 as the Digital Age started phasing out
• In the Talent Age people have a wide range of skills, leadership & self-direction are important career components and they integrate knowledge and talent.
• A new part of professional development is emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) – book recommendation Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves
• Celebrate milestones & accomplishments of your team

Keynote speaker John McGlade
STEM education is not the only thing the US needs to focus on. We are facing a potential gap of millions of jobs related to “middle skills”. There are jobs such as welders, maintenance mechanics, etc., that don’t require 4 year college degrees but are vital to many companies. These vo-tech skills and opportunities are disappearing from high schools, reducing exposure to many kids.

Managing in Tough Times (panel)
• Having a management depth chart can be helpful in reduction (staff cuts) and growth (promotions & replacements) scenarios
• Employees appreciate being in the know when things are bad. They may even help find creative ways to reduce costs places other than labor.
• Many companies have ineffective, “Byzantine” procurement policies and organizations.

Managing High Variable Demand of High Variable Customers with Analytics
• “Make the Complex Simple”
• Providing international trip planning for high profile customers – business execs, entertainers, heads of state (even POTUS). Customers expect perfection and mistakes are highly visible.
• Needed to minimize staffing while meeting highly variable demand. Used integer programming (OR) subject to particular constraints – shifts and days worked must be continuous, minimize Sat/Sun coverage, looked at 8/10/12 hr shifts
• Model recommended 12 hrs shifts with a 2 week pattern of 3 days on/4 off/4 on/3 off, which was win-win-win for the company: problem was solved, COO was hesitant about working OT but model proved it was lower cost than 8 or 10 hours, and employees were already working 12 hour shifts which they wanted to keep.
• Did you know? Early pilots flew cross country via visual markers, often railroad tracks. When cloudy they would drop down low which unfortunately caused many to fatally crash.

A Novel Low Cost Web Based Labor Scheduling System for Retail Operations
• A restaurant is basically a food factory, but with some variations: there are several small locations vs one large plant; production demand is unknown (but can be forecasted); service time is measured in seconds instead of days; hold time is measured in minutes instead of weeks (because food expires); labor is much more transient (100-200% turnover) and is usually less trained and multi-tasks vs highly trained specialized labor.
• IE disciplines can still be applied – Measure, Quantify, Calculate, Verify & Test the activities being performed – perform process improvement and time studies.
• Having the right labor in the right place at the right time still applies; cross-training and activity sharing can reduce overall labor needs
• Unfortunately, I felt that this transitioned into a sales pitch for the particular web software this company provides. The presenter explained how it worked and why it would be beneficial, which may have had value for some of the attendees. However, as an IE who has worked extensively in food service, including time spent as a manager responsible for scheduling, it failed to teach me anything new.

Hope you enjoy reading about what’s going on at the conference. I’ll be back tomorrow!