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In fiercely competitive global and dynamic environments, companies face increasing pressures to exceed customer expectations along multiple performance measures, such as cost, quality, flexibility and innovativeness. To outperform their competitors, many firms make the mistake of mimicking their rivals, rather than focusing on developing the organizational capabilities that competitors will find difficult to match over the long term. And although operations are at the core of a firm’s value adding activities, few firms have sought to build a sustainable competitive advantage around these capabilities.
As such, this subject emphasises the critical nature of Operations Management as an essential part of a competent engineer’s portfolio of knowledge and skills. Operations deals with the design, management and continuous improvement of business processes. It aims at providing some of the core concepts in operations that are essential for leveraging a firm’s operational capabilities to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. This course provides a logical and rigorous approach to plan and control process structure and managerial levers to achieve desired business process performance.
Intended learning outcomes
This subject aims to highlight the skills and competencies needed by engineers to ensure their ongoing contribution to an organisation’s operations and competitive position. These include:
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Analyse real-world processes and evaluate their consistency with the firm strategy.
- Apply process analysis techniques for identification of bottlenecks and suggest approaches for de-bottlenecking.
- Apply core principles of project management to plan, analyse, and schedule activities and resources for simple business projects
- Identify managerial levers for controlling inventory and apply simple analytical models for estimating needed safety stock for a desired service level.
- Identify the drivers of variability in processes and propose solutions to mitigate its ill effects using simple queuing theory concepts.
- Use robust statistical process control techniques to ensure capability and control of a process.
- Apply six-sigma and lean concepts to a wide range of business processes.
In addition to learning specific skills that will assist students in their future careers in science, they will have the opportunity to develop generic skills that will assist them in any future career path. These include:
- problem-solving skills: the ability to engage with relatively unstructured problems and develop appropriate solution strategies using rigorous quantitative analysis
- analytical skills: the ability to construct and express logical arguments and to work in abstract or general terms to increase the clarity and efficiency of analysis;
- collaborative skills: the ability to work in a team; and
- time management skills: the ability to meet regular deadlines while balancing competing commitments.
- written and oral communication skills: the ability to communicate findings and analysis effectively and prepare technical reports according to client specifications
Last updated: 10 November 2023