Case Study MS160

Industrial Manufacturing


Case author

Professor Paola Viotto, PhD

Learning objectives

After you completed this course module, you will be able to conceptually solve holistic management problems within a case study of industrial manufacturing.


The Hannibal Group started as a civil works company. It took advantage of the increasing level of urbanization in Tunisia, specializing in road works and sewerage systems for social housing. Efforts were repaid by success, the company developed quickly and, by 2008, it became a reference player in the niche of sewerage systems for social housing.

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Reading extract Industrial Manufacturing Case Study


Some introducing thoughts on industrial manufacturing

Man has continued to evolve, advance and progress by finding new, innovative and efficient ways to produce what he needs to survive. Technological advancements can improve the entire world's industrial manufacturing capacity. This is a review of the creation of the modern industrial manufacturing during two phases: The First Industrial Revolution (1760 to 1840) and the Second Industrial Revolution (1870 to 1950).

Each step builds upon the technological developments of the previous phase, like a pyramid. This review will assess the following key developments of modern industrial manufacturing: I. Mechanized, II. Metallurgy, III. More Efficient Energy Sources, IV. Assembly Line and V. Just-In-Time (JIT) & Robotics.



In the 1700s, most production was generated by small groups - wives using spinning looms, carpenters and blacksmiths. The process was slow, expensive and not standardized. Energy was supplied by man, horse, water or wind power.

Brands could not be developed because each product was slightly different. The textile industry was the beneficiary of some of the first technological advancements.
Cheaper Cotton and Wool Garments

England has been credited with being one of the primary centers for industrialization. Many other nations contributed with new scientific discoveries, techniques and innovations, including France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the United States and Japan.

As the British Empire expanded, it reached the Indian subcontinent where cotton was harvested cheaply. England developed its textile industry creating calico along with its traditional wool clothing lines. The British invented machines to make the textile industry more efficient.

In 1733, the invention of the flying shuttle was pivotal. The flyer-and-bobbin system was developed in 1743. In 1760, the drop box was added. Each of these created a more efficient clothes-making process.


From Home to Factory

Over time, hand-crafted clothing methods became machine-oriented. The 1764 spinning jenny, invented by James Hargreaves, used multiple spindles to lower the overall cost of clothing. In 1768, Richard Arkwright invented the water frame. In 1779, Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule, which combined the spinning jenny and water frame into a carriage for the creation of finer thread. Individual inventions were combined to make complete textile systems. Richard Arkwright created factories in Manchester, England, which became the center for the modern textile industry.


Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin

The process for removing the seeds from the cotton plant could be incredibly tedious taking months to complete. With the 1794 invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, this seed removal could be completed in a day. Carding, twisting, spinning and rolling innovations improved the quality of yarn. The textile industry had become mechanized.



The periods of mankind's development are sometimes classified using metallic references: Stone Age, Bronze Age and Golden Age. When European empires invaded the Americas, the superiority of European metallic weapons and armor was apparent. The Spanish Conquistadors faced Aztecs who only had stone knives.

Under King Gustavus Adolphus (1594 to 1632), Sweden dominated warfare using carefully coordinated gun firing lines. In the 1700s, England imported large amounts of iron from both Sweden and Russia. But all this changed as iron manufacturing technology improved.


The Island of Tin = BriTin

To create strong metals, raw iron ore was mixed with charcoal to burn off the impurities. The higher the heat - the fewer the impurities and the stronger the metal. Before industrialisation, black smiths would hammer the metal into shape. Industrialization improved all types of iron: pig, wrought and cast.

In 1678, reverberatory furnaces were used as cupolas to mix iron ore with charcoal. In 1709, improved pig iron was used to create better cast-iron pots and kettles. In 1760, the first cast iron blowing cylinder process was used.

The Henry Cort puddling process was developed in 1784 - it lead to the replacement of hammering with rolling. The hot blast furnace was developed in 1828, this process used exhaust heat to preheat the combustion air. Eventually, lower grade coal could be used to created higher-quality iron.


Rise of the Steel Industry

The 1740s saw the gradual development of the steel industry. The full vitality of the steel industry would only fully be realized in the Second Phase of the Industrial Revolution with England, Germany, France, the United States and Japan leading the charge. In the 1890s, the Bessemer process used an open hearth furnace to create better steel.

Once the industrialists had steel, they could manufacture interchangeable parts - ball bearings, pins, nails, screws, bolts, wires and gears. Standardized metallic tools and lathe, cutting, drilling and boring machines could be used to create pumps and engines. Finally, the engines could be used to power the modern factory assembly line.
Japan Defeated Russia in Russo-Japanese War

The Japanese steel industry developed in 1850 leading to efficient manufacturing of airplanes and ships. When Japan defeated Russia in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, the world took notice. Japan has continued to be the leader for Asian industrial manufacturing.


More Efficient Energy Sources

When energy sources were primarily man, horse, wind or water, the manufacturing possibilities were quite limited. Many mills were located near streams or rivers in order to provide power. The steam engine changed all of this by providing a new energy source for ships, trains and factories.

In 1698, the Savery was the first steam-powered engine using a low-lift vacuum and pressure water pump. In 1712, the Newcomen steam engine was used primarily for removing water from coal mines. Finally, the 1778 Watt steam engine used low pressure to drive the piston for improved efficiency.

The Watt steam engine was made of iron and fueled by coal. It allowed for faster transportation around the globe due to coal-fed steamers and coal-fed locomotives.

France has offered many great medical and scientific innovations, along with the 1798 Fourdrinier paper-making machine. Germany has created many valuable chemical, plastic and pharmaceutical products.


Energy Return On Investment Drives Efficiency

Economists understand that increased productivity has been spurned on by the usage of more efficient energy sources. Steam engines freed man from the limitations of Mother Nature. The Energy Return On Investment (EROI) measures exajoules of energy delivered from minerals compared to the cost for extracting the minerals.

For future manufacturing, industrialists are wondering if they can continue to use non-renewable fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. Renewable fuels - like wind, biomass, solar or water - are more expensive. Fossil fuels are more efficient with a higher EROI.


Assembly Line

A successful consultant can identify inefficient manufacturing processes, like the ones occurring around the world before the 1800s. Traditional guild craftsmen would take tools, parts and assemblies to a central location to create a finished product. Men or horses might need to move units on heavy carts from one room to another.

Handmade items were not standardized, all were slightly different due to a lack of precision instruments, equipment and machines. The workers might stretch, bend or kneel in awkward positions around a stationary piece - very inefficient and slow.

Modern industrial manufacturing has created the assembly line to move the parts and assembly pieces to the stations where each specialized worker is located. Workers could rotate pieces more easily for a three-dimensional view. Assembly lines would change the dynamic of manufacturing permitting more specialization as each worker concentrated on one specific element of construction.

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford

The Henry Ford perfection of the assembly line in the 1900s was really the fulfillment of all the technological industrial innovations before him. Steel gears, engines and factories enabled Ford managers to speed up or slow down productivity by adjusting belt speeds. This has created a faster, more efficient, precise and quantifiable industrial manufacturing system.

Modern executives can better calculate how many whole manufactured units can be created in a specific amount of time. They can also fix quality glitches by targeting specific processes. This productivity certainty has attracted more investment capital.

Increased efficiency lead to the 1908 Model T price of $825 being reduced to the 1916 price of $360. The Ford automobiles added features at a lower overall cost. Ford and many of the large automobile manufacturers believed in the war-time strategy of maintaining large inventory parts stockpiles. This ensured the reliability of industrial manufacturing, but could be expensive.


Just-In-Time & Robotics

The modern industrial manufacturing template has shifted to Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory and robotics. Japan has followed the belief that "large amounts of parts stored at a warehouse are wasteful." High storage costs and the waste of unused parts can be a drain on capital. This ideology was developed in the 1990s.

Just like an ancient Asian general might use flags and hand signals to direct his army, the modern JIT manager uses flags to identify shortages, glitches and obstacles. Called Kanban, these signals have created a "leaner manufacturing" process allowing for scarce capital to be used more productively on research and development.

Increased robotics has created industrial manufacturing removing many human workers. The managers can use computers to direct the processes remotely. This is a superior method for dangerous, hazardous or highly precise manufacturing processes.


Future of Industrial Manufacturing

Electricity, hand-held communication devices and the World Wide Web are all important elements of modern industrial manufacturing. For the future, we should expect the most monumental changes from advances in metallurgy and energy. These tend to lead industrial manufacturing advances. Manufacturing techniques and processes naturally evolve from the technology available.


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