Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering dealing with the optimization of complex processes or systems. It is concerned with the development, improvement, implementation and evaluation of integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy, materials, analysis and synthesis, as well as the mathematical, physical and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering design to specify, predict, and evaluate the results to be obtained from such systems or processes. Its underlying concepts overlap considerably with certain business-oriented disciplines such as operations management, but the engineering side tends to emphasize extensive mathematicalproficiency and usage of quantitative methods.
Depending on the sub-speciality(ies) involved, industrial engineering may also be known as operations management, management science, operations research, systems engineering,manufacturing engineering or ergonomics and human factors engineering / safety engineering, usually depending on the viewpoint or motives of the user. Recruiters or educational establishments use the names to differentiate themselves from others. In health care, industrial engineers are more commonly known as health management engineers or health systems engineers.
Process optimization is the discipline of adjusting a process so as to optimize some specified set of parameters without violating some constraint. The most common goals are minimizing cost, maximizing throughput, and/or efficiency. This is one of the major quantitative tools in industrial decision making.
When optimizing a process, the goal is to maximize one or more of the process specifications, while keeping all others within their constraints.
Fundamentally, there are three parameters that can be adjusted to affect optimal performance. They are:
- Equipment optimization
The first step is to verify that the existing equipment is being used to its fullest advantage by examining operating data to identify equipment bottlenecks.
- Operating procedures
Operating procedures may vary widely from person-to-person or from shift-to-shift. Automation of the plant can help significantly. But automation will be of no help if the operators take control and run the plant in manual.
- Control optimization
In a typical processing plant, such as a chemical plant or oil refinery, there are hundreds or even thousands of control loops. Each control loop is responsible for controlling one part of the process, such as maintaining a temperature, level, or flow.
If the control loop is not properly designed and tuned, the process runs below its optimum. The process will be more expensive to operate, and equipment will wear out prematurely. For each control loop to run optimally, identification of sensor, valve, and tuning problems is important. It has been well documented that over 35% of control loops typically have problems.
The process of continuously monitoring and optimizing the entire plant is sometimes called performance supervision.
Presently, general-purpose optimization techniques such as Simulated Annealing, and Genetic Algorithms, have become standard optimization techniques. Concerted research efforts have been made recently in order to invent novel optimization techniques for solving real life problems, which have the attributes of memory update and population-based search solutions. The book describes a variety of these novel optimization techniques which in most cases outperform the standard optimization techniques in many application areas.
New Optimization Techniques in Engineering reports applications and results of the novel optimization techniques considering a multitude of practical problems in the different engineering disciplines – presenting both the background of the subject area and the techniques for solving the problems.