Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

October 2012    |    Volume: 44    |    Number: 10

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

Return on investment

Ever on the job, many industrial engineers notice processes that take a bit of finesse from patrons to maintain an efficient and orderly flow. While waiting in the security line on the way to my next redeye flight home after a week at the client site, I take the time to optimize my route (not to mention redesign the queues and signage in my head). Who is wearing slip-on shoes and a belt with a plastic buckle? How many trips through the X-ray did that guy make because he keeps finding more metal in his pockets?

It’s a good idea to come prepared with products that make traveling a bit easier. One option is the Transformer jacket from Scottevest (SeV) – an innovative travel clothing company based in Sun Valley, Idaho. With a whopping 20 pockets, it has plenty of room to carry your daily arsenal along with extra goodies like a tablet computer. That way, instead of emptying pocket after pocket in front of security, the wearer simply drops the jacket on the conveyor and watches it go through the X-ray. There’s even room for a bottle of water once you make it through security. In addition to a plethora of pockets, this jacket boasts SeV’s removable Tec-Mag sleeve system, allowing a seamless transformation from jacket to vest.

Or, you could pick up the Carry-On Coat and leave all baggage behind. This "travel trench" is designed to replace a carry-on bag and features 33 pockets, including some large enough to fit your perfectly folded spread-collar dress shirts. SeV sells more than 50 products that have significantly more pocket volume than their traditional counterparts.

Aside from leaning out your trip through airport security, access to multiple pockets throughout the day offers other benefits. Given the variety of career fields that IEs pursue, an SeV garment could carry all of your proverbial tricks of the trade – stopwatch, calculator, tape measure, camera, safety glasses, note pads, white board markers and more. You probably can fit a clipboard in there if you’re feeling stereotypical.

Think of how much non-value-added time you can reduce by eliminating those trips back to the office to grab your favorite measurement tools. On the other hand, you may unwittingly create an increased ergonomic risk by carrying all of your equipment around all day.

Kidding aside, the variety of options that SeV provides can enable industrial engineers to have the right tools and equipment at the “point of use” in work situations where heading back to the office may be too time consuming or even impossible. Whether working on a construction site, on the manufacturing floor, in a server room or at a client’s facility in another state, it soon will become apparent how useful it would be to upgrade your wardrobe.

Drew Harnish is the assistant regional vice president of IIE’s Mid-Atlantic Region and works as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm. He holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Oklahoma and is a board-certified associate ergonomics professional and Six Sigma black belt.