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Graduate Program in Production Engineering Universidade de São Paulo

Research Areas

Production Economics and Financial Engineering (EPEF)

This area, which focuses on project research and issues linked to production economics, energy and technological development, deals with a broad set of themes comprised in the economics of systems and production processes, innovation, sustainability, the economic and financial management of companies and mathematical modeling.
The structure of the research group is organized along two major lines of action:

Production economics
Production economics focuses on global problems of business and competiveness models; industrial organization and technological development; production chain analysis; economic process modeling; the analysis of local production systems and regional clusters; sector analyses; and technical and economic prospects for emerging sectors.
Some of the research topics are:

Economics, and innovation and technology management;
Integration between economics and logistics;
University/company interaction;
Creative industries: the music production sector;
Information flows and inter-organizational knowledge;
Innovation geography and APLs;
Production cooperation networks and industrial clusters;
Analysis of dynamic production chains;
Sustainability in the production chain.

Financial engineering
The problems dealt with in this line of research concern solving issues of quantitative modeling, economic-financial analysis, pricing, cost management systems and the integration of economic financial models with management information. Some of the research themes in the area are:

The economic and financial management of production organizations in different environments, such as companies, cooperatives, recuperated plants, etc.;
Economic and financial decision-making concerning location, industrial capacity, product mix, product and service cost and price and investment analysis;
Pricing and costing models;
Financial management of agribusiness: statistical and optimization models;
Pricing and risk in energy markets;
Optimization methods applied to finance: portfolios, real options, and risk management.

Operations and Logistics Management (GOL)

This research area deals with the planning and management of operations and production resources within the context of manufacturing industries, logistics systems, and service systems. It considers emerging themes related to Production Planning, Programming and Control (PCP), Inventory Management, Capacity Planning, Location, Operations Strategy, Productivity in Manufacturing or Service Operations, and Productivity in Logistics Systems and Supply Chains. The Operations and Logistics Management (GOL) group currently has PhD and Master’s degree projects involving graduate students and scientific initiation projects involving undergraduate students. These projects are connected with three core research lines as follow:

1. Production and Inventory Planning, Programming and Control;
2. Logistics and the Supply Chain;
3. Productivity in Operations and Logistics Systems.

One of the characteristics of the projects pertaining to the first two research lines is the intensive use of mathematical modeling and simulation for solving optimization problems in operations planning and programming, inventory planning and control, and design of logistical infrastructure. Projects pertaining to the third research line are characterized by the investigation of the key issues that emerge in intervention processes aimed at implementing operations systems and managerial processes that promote the pursuit of operational excellence in terms of cost, flexibility, reliability, and agility.

Some of the research themes and research issues related to the above mentioned research lines that the GOL group is currently prioritizing for new research projects are listed below:

Production and Inventory Planning, Programming and Control
— Optimization methods applied to production problems, especially problems of production planning, programming and control (PPC);
— Heuristic and exact methods for dealing with activity programming (scheduling) problems;
— Introduction of detailed programming systems (Advanced Planning and Scheduling/APS) in production systems originally based on the MRP-II model;
— Systematization of the use of computer simulation (discrete events, agent based, etc.) in support to capacity and industrial production planning;
— New trends in corporate management systems (Enterprise Resource Planning/ERP) and their impact on production planning and control, including the study of the alternative of open source ERP software;
— Cutting and Packaging problem solving through optimization methods.

Logistics and the Supply Chain
— Optimization of logistics networks considering the effects of return freight, taxes, service levels and traditional logistics costs;
— Logistics network planning (location of plants and distribution centers; cargo routes planning);
— Use of System Dynamics models (Forrester) in logistics and supply chain problems;
— Methods for structuring problems (soft operational research) applied to collaboration problems in supply chains.

Productivity in Operations and Logistics Systems
— The search for operational excellence in manufacturing processes as well as in environments beyond the factory-floor (e.g. in administrative or transactional processes) focusing the challenge of improving the value creation and delivery processes through the effective application of methodologies that support the principles of Lean Manufacturing, Lean Service and Lean Office;
— Fostering the symbiosis between environmental management systems (EMS), development of reverse logistics systems, and performance improvement approaches that constitute the world class manufacturing (WCM) standards (e.g. Lean production, Lean Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance/TPM, Theory of Constraints/TOC, etc.) in search for sustainable production;
— Performance metrics and performance assessment systems for the management of production processes in the context of manufacturing, supply, and service systems;
— Design of highly efficient, flexible and fast (rapid response) operating systems that support mass customization (personalization) and build-to-order (BTO) business strategies.

Information Technology Management (GTI)

The main focus of this group is studying the management of information technology (IT), involving aspects of planning and implementation. This includes the analysis and evaluation of the impacts of IT strategy and applications to corporate business strategy and operations, and how IT should be planned to achieve improved effectiveness and efficiency. These analyses include models of IT governance. This area also focuses on models for managing software development and assessment processes for IT applications with an emphasis on efficiency and quality aspects. Advanced techniques and methods that allow complex IT applications geared toward Decision Support Systems to be analyzed and modeled are also studied.

ITM themes are grouped into three research lines, deployed in projects that involve graduate (Master’s degree and PhD) and undergraduate (scientific initiation and graduation monograph) students. These lines of research are currently:

Information Technology Strategy and Planning
The first line projects focus on the impacts of IT strategy and applications upon company activities. How IT should be planned to obtain greater efficiency is studied, in a broad and integrated approach to the company’s business, focusing on IT as a strategic and competitive tool. IT governance, knowledge management and the growing virtualization of activities in intra- and inter-company contexts, which are made feasible by IT applications that are increasingly powerful, innovative, convergent and interlinked (in what is called digital convergence), are also studied using the same strategic approach.

Some of the priority themes and research issues are:

Governance models, their adoption and implementation and their impact on the planning and operation of corporate IT areas;
The impact of the growing virtualization of activities upon the strategy and planning of the effective use of IT applications and digital convergence;
The analysis and assessment of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), SCM (Supply Chain Management), CRM (Consumer Management Relationship) and Business Intelligence systems;
The integration of knowledge management and IT applications with the business and operational strategies of companies;
The role of IT as an agent and vector for technological development and innovation.
Implementation of Information Technology systems
The second line includes projects designed to assess IT applications, with an emphasis on their efficiency and quality. Methodologies and techniques for an efficient and planned process for developing information systems and software methods for implementing IT applications for the virtualization of activities and the software development process itself are studied. This involves techniques for programming and defining software requirements and reference models for the software development process (within the organizational context) and for the management of new information systems projects.

Some of the priority themes and research questions are:

Managing and defining software processes with teams distributed across time and space;
Managing the knowledge and skills of the professionals involved in a software factory environment, despite the turnover of this particular labor market;
Implementing workflow sets without the need for a major programming effort;
Keeping systems in operation that can easily keep up with rapid business changes;
Business and process modeling.
Decision support systems
The third line deals with projects that study the issue of decisions in organizations, by means of the various mathematical and heuristic models that can be used in these processes and the computer tools that are being increasingly disseminated and that make such models more accessible and easier to implement. The dynamic nature of the competitive environment calls for increasingly fast decision-making, while requiring that a growing number of agents, factors and volume of information be taken into account. The volume of data to be processed and the uncertainty involving these data imply increasingly complex models.

The priority themes and research questions include:

Fast and suitable modeling of systems for supporting decisions in various contexts of the business activity;
More accessible and user-friendly decision support systems;
Complex IT applications, such as specialist systems, fuzzy sets, heuristic networks and multiobjective and multicriteria optimization;
Models for a more systematic decision process in an environment of great uncertainty.

Product, Quality and Engineering (QEP)

The objective of the Product Quality and Engineering (QEP) group in graduate studies is the proposition and handling of research projects at the PhD, Master’s degree and scientific initiation levels, involving graduate and undergraduate students and based on three core lines of research:

Quality engineering
This line concentrates the statistical methods that are applied to quality control, product reliability and the product project. A characteristic of projects related to the first line of research is the heavy use of statistical methods for solving problems of quality control, product reliability and product project.

Project and Product
This line of research investigates strategic aspects and the methods and practices used to manage the project/undertakings and to develop new products and services. Projects in the second line are characterized by their investigation of the key issues that emerge in the development of new products, processes and services, methods and techniques for managing projects and strategic aspects of project and innovation-oriented organizations.

Quality Management Systems
This line considers standardized (for example, in accordance with ISO standards) and quality systems, such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Process Management, Six Sigma and others. The third line covers quality management in connection with process improvement activities and the introduction of standardized systems (for example: environmental, social responsibility and hospital standards), and the adoption of organizational models, such as Total Quality Management and Six Sigma programs.

Research teams and questions proposed by PQE for new projects:

Quality Engineering
Metrological reliability applied in laboratories and measurement processes;
On-line process control (Taguchi) by attributes and variables;
Classification errors;
Statistical tools for measuring satisfaction and identifying customer needs;
Control graphs (multivariate, auto-correlated, multi-channel, etc.);
Capacity indices;
Methods for determining shelf-life;
Statistical models for reliability and maintenance data;
Statistical process validation.
Project and Product
New service developments and servitization;
Project management tools and techniques;
Project portfolio management and stakeholder analysis;
Implementation of project management offices and knowledge management in projects;
Implementation of quality function deployment (QFD);
Implications of a modular project for production and organizational systems;
Innovation with customer participation;
Maturity and competence models in project management;
Six Sigma (DFSS) and sustainability projects;
Product development technique aimed at innovation;
Theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ).
Quality systems
System Dynamics applied to Six Sigma and sustainability;
Management by processes;
Environmental management and sustainability;
Lean Six Sigma.
Six Sigma in the service and health sectors.

Work, Technology and Organization (TTO)

This research group was formed in the early 1980s. It has since been a leader in this field on the national scene and is renowned internationally. It comprises three fields of knowledge: the organization of work, technology management and ergonomics. These allow for the development of interdisciplinary approaches to planning, developing and perfecting organization systems and management methods in industry and services.The automotive industry was the initial focus of the group’s work. This focus gradually expanded and currently includes everything from agriculture to telecommunication, from banks and hospitals to software.

During this time the group not only incorporated the most advanced theories and concepts, but it was also recognized as a generator of new knowledge both in the basic areas and in the research methods it uses.
The LTO area currently has three main lines of research:

The Servitization line deals with issues of work organization in a context in which industrial companies add increasingly “service” to their strategies and products and service companies adopt increasingly management methods that have been developed in the industrial environment.

The integrating concept is that of the “production of usage value” for users and customers, combining products and services. Both the strategies and the forms of organization are studied to produce “service packages”, with the organizational project being strongly supported by the competence management and knowledge management approaches.

Globalization, strategies and organization
The “Globalization, strategies and organization” line conducts studies designed to understand the current and future ways of organizing production and work at both the local level and the national and global levels, driven by the profound changes witnessed in the economic, institutional, political and cultural environments.

At present there is particular interest in the following themes.

A) “The Internationalization of Companies and Production”, which is based on the areas of International Manufacturing, International Management and International Business for the study of the internationalization processes of companies, particularly Brazilian companies and those from emerging countries. These works are linked to two major projects currently being conducted at USP: the thematic project: “Corporate Management for the Internationalization of Brazilian Companies”, conducted by the Technology Policy and Management Center, and the “Innovation Strategies: Brazil, China and India” project, conducted by the Innovation and Competitiveness Monitoring Center of the Institute of Advanced Studies.

B) “Strategic Management of Innovation”, which seeks to understand and develop organizational project criteria for companies aimed first and foremost at the innovation of products and processes. It is based on specific approaches of knowledge management, communication processes, the organization of semi-autonomous teams, personnel management systems and entrepreneurship.

C) “The Financialization of Production”. The growing importance of financialization – a process in which enhancement of capital value by way of the financial system is preferred to enhancing capital value by way of production – in industrial and non-financial service companies (“productive” companies) has profound consequences for the organization and management of production and of work.
With “production logic” being subordinated to “financial logic”, production systems tend to be judged on criteria used in purely financial environments and “good financial practices” are reflected in production practices, which are modified in order to adjust to the new dominant logic.

The Ergonomics of Complex Systems
In the “Ergonomics of Complex Systems” line, the approach of Ergonomics, with significant input from the Psychodynamics of Work, has a permanent interchange with issues of work organization and the choice of technology.

The main focus of the proposed approach is the analysis of work situations, in order to understand the problems found in the different operations, how operating results are obtained and the challenges posed by the development of the competences of workers and that threaten their health.

The aim is to design work systems in which greater levels of reliability can be guaranteed through suitable working conditions, the use of technology that is appropriate to and suitable for human characteristics, and the organizational options that facilitate the development of team cooperation and consolidation.

Active participation in the creation of the Design Course (coordinated by FAU/USP) gave rise to a sub-line that tries to articulate issues that are common to production engineering and design, in particular product development processes driven by technological innovation.

Below are some of the research themes:

The production of professional services;
The production of services in the health area.
Globalization, strategy and organization
The internationalization of companies from Brazil and emerging countries;
The organization and strategic management of innovation;
The financialization of production.
Ergonomics of Complex Systems
The constitution of work teams and reliability in health services;
Work and complexity in design, management and operational activities.