Engineering Processes In The Wake Of A Catastrophe.

1407 words - 6 pages

While the events of September 11 are causing all Americans, and most of the western world, to rethink their lives and actions as they strive to return to a life with some semblance of normalcy, we must realize that any attempt to regain that normalcy cannot just take place on a superficial level, but must go to the core of how business is conducted. For the Industrial Engineer, the problems faced are deep and profound, as businesses are forced to change at their core in order to survive in this new environment.By any measure, the scope of the attacks was massive: thousands dead; thousands injured; the cost of destruction in the tens of billions of dollars; millions of square feet of office space destroyed; air travel disrupted around the world; an undetermined impact on the international economy; global political turmoil. Though the immediate effect was upon those in New York and Washington, it soon became apparent how the effect has rippled thought the country, the world and the economy. Businesses that were strong are now faced with an anxious future, while those that were shaky to begin with are struggling in order to have any future at all. Some business that were considered inconsequential before September 11, now find themselves at important suppliers. For the industrial engineer, the problem is how find the correct path that answers as many needs as possible, both ethically and professionally. How do we make the drastic cuts in a business that will put hundreds if not more out of work in order to save that business? How do we retool business for the needs of the new environment without appearing to be taking advantage of or profiteering from the acts of terrorism? And finally, how do we balance the needs of the individual in coping with the psychological ramifications of what we now possibly face with the needs of an economy that must push ahead if we are going to continue to survive and prosper as a country.A perfect example is the actions of a manufacturer of orthopedic devices in New Jersey as described by Tomanelli (2001). Immediately after the attack two different course of action were required. On one hand, there was grave concern that some of their workers might have loved ones who were victims, while on the other hand there was a sudden need for some of the trauma products that they produced. A decision was made that employees with family that was possibly in danger were sent home immediately to attend to their personal matters. At the same time, trauma experts from their engineering teams began to identify the components that might be needed started to assemble them for delivery. By they time representatives called from hospitals in New York, an assembly line was already fast at work, with all other company business put aside. While this was taking place, other engineers were busy designing new systems to get the products to the hospital, since most normal methods of transportation were no longer functioning. With the assistance...

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