Alternative process sequences - services, Operation Management

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Alternative Process Sequences - Services

Just as in the selection of processes for product production, typically there will be alternative ways of delivering a service. Consider the provision of an airline service between two city airports. One approach to the process design might employ direct flights between the airports; an alternative design would entail connected flights, with the passengers transferring at hub airports. In the latter case there would be the choice of hub airports e.g. in providing transport from Glasgow to Hong Kong, an airline might choose either London, Amsterdam or Paris as the hub to be used.

Another process design consideration would be the size of aircraft to be employed: small aircraft with frequent flights or large aircraft, flying less frequently. A further consideration would be the provision of in-flight entertainment (communal screening of films or seat-back screens with individual choice from a selection of programmes) and food (full meals with course selections, set menu, or sandwiches), or none with a 'no frills' operation. And so on. Another, novel, illustration of process sequence alternatives is in eye surgery. The traditional process design shares some of the characteristics of the production job shop: highly flexible, slow and with high unit costs.

A highly-skilled surgeon, capable of operating on many different eye disorders, conducts the complete surgical process (assisted by medical support staff) on one patient at a time, in a single-table operating theatre. Dr Svyatoslav Fyodorov successfully developed a radically different process design at the Microsurgical Eye Centre in Moscow; a process sequence with many of the features of production's connected-flow batch systems. In this system, advantage is taken of the relatively high-volume demand for treatment of the most common eye disorders requiring surgery; by employing the principle of division of labour, the resulting specialisation delivers the economies of scale. The physical realisation of this approach is by 'processing' batches of patients, who have the same surgical requirements, on a surgical conveyor line, comprising a series of operating tables which move intermittently from one operation station to another. At each of these stations a specially trained medic repeatedly carries out a part of the surgical process.


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