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Production is a fundamental societal and economic activity. Production has to do with the transformation of raw materials into useful objects and includes the knowledge to complete the transformation effectively. Thus, production is a board topic ranging from philosophies about how to approach production such as lean and quick response manufacturing, how to organize production facilities, how to analyze production operations, how to control the flow of materials during production, the devices used to move materials within a facility, and strategies for coordinating multiple production facilities.

An integrated introduction to production is presented in a set of learning modules. In significant part, these learning modules are based on over 20 years of interactions with the professional production community in the West Michigan region where Grand Rapids and Holland are the principal cities. This community consists almost exclusively of small and medium size companies engaged primarily in high mix, low volume manufacturing. Students in the Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Master of Science in Engineering programs at Grand Valley State University often work in production for these companies. Thus, interactions are facilitated particularly though master’s degree capstone projects, several of which are referenced in the learning modules.

The learning modules are well-grounded in established production concepts. Emphasis is placed on proven procedures such as systematic layout planning, factory physics, various production flow control techniques such as kanban and POLCA, and discrete event simulation.

Professional practice is a focus of the learning modules. Material from processional groups such as the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Material Handling Institute (MHI) is integrated. The opportunity to read and discuss professional publications presenting production improvement projects is provided. Students are referred to professional videos and web sites throughout the learning modules.

All materials provided are referenced are open access and free of charge.

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Grand Valley State University Libraries


Allendale, MI

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.


production operations, manufacturing operations, operations management, lean, discrete event simulation


Business | Engineering

Introduction to Production: Philosophies, Flow, and Analysis