Part mathematician, part scientist, and part consultant, industrial engineers combine operations-management skills with deep technical knowledge. Their job is to use their engineering expertise and problem-solving abilities in order to improve systems, such as factories and amusement parks. To that end, industrial engineers use many interesting gadgets and programs.
Industrial engineers spend significant time running simulations, either to figure out errors or to improve upon their work. Industrial engineers often use a software program called Arena to simulate business processes, seeing how things play out given different sets of variables. For instance, a person can build a simulated manufacturing plant and watch how much idle time the plant wastes, or how much it can produce on a given day. Arena can interface with other programs, such as Visio, to parse and distribute its data.
Because they often deal with large systems, industrial engineers need to know how to control them. That’s where microcontrollers come in. Microcontrollers direct the operation of much large systems–everything from toys to cars to factories. According to SeaPerch, a robotics program, microcontrollers reliably perform a handful of dedicated tasks. As for industrial engineers, knowing how to install and program microcontrollers can make the job of improving a system much easier; for instance, microcontrollers could help control a conveyor belt efficiently.
Computer-Aided Design Software
Computer-aided design (CAD) is one of the more prominent tools used by industrial engineers. It allows for precise mapping and designing of machines and products. For instance, CAD can handle the task of creating maps and flowcharts for building microcontrollers–a job that would be virtually impossible to do by hand. Plus, CAD-generated plans can be edited on the fly, making it a flexible tool. Additionally, CAD programs can call up previous versions or break a design down into its individual parts, features that are attractive to any engineer.
Coordinate Measuring Machine
Coordinate measuring machines map the shape, size, and other physical features of an object. A typical coordinate measuring machine has three axes of motion, a sensitive probing system, a mechanism to control the object being measured, and software that helps collect and analyze data. A paper published by IGNOU says that coordinate measuring machines are useful for detailed analyses of objects, such as machine parts. They can sniff out errors and inconsistencies much more precisely and accurately than a human. Industrial engineers in manufacturing plants use coordinate measuring machines to improve products being made, or to figure out why a part isn’t fitting the way it should.
While everyone has a pocket calculator on their smartphone, these devices don’t cut it for engineering applications. Scientific calculators can handle extremely complicated equations, and tend to be more ergonomically practical than smaller calculators when it comes to handling intricate problems or large data sets. Graphing calculators, a subset of scientific calculators, can provide visual representations of data projections. By using these advanced calculators, industrial engineers can quickly graph the complicated mathematical functions they deal with on a daily basis.
In addition to industrial engineering, Charlie Thornton writes on environmental studies, plastic tanks, water storage, reservoirs, global water supply, green living, construction and other related topics.
Image credit goes to The Anna Taylor.