The Basics of Operations Management

Cover illustration: courtesy of Centro Storico Fiat, press at Lingotto factory (© 1934)

Operations Management

Homo Faber at Work

The Homo Faber creates products and tools, that make new tools and new products. As craftsman of his own destiny, he contributes to the development of mankind. This book, designed for university students, new managers, and young entrepreneurs, shows the Homo Faber at work: in Logistics, Production, Purchasing, Quality, and at large in the Supply Chain. This knowledge is important for all employees of an industrial company, to understand how value is generated, and for those providing services to industrial companies, because they most often support their customers’ Operations.

ISBN: 978-2-8399-3731-3
Pages: 267
Publisher: mediata sa  (


This book is dedicated to all those who did, do and will create products, and tools, to produce new products and new tools, contributing to the development of mankind. Within the “Homo Sapiens” species they belong to the “Homo Faber” group: the “makers”. 

It is addressed to those who want to become managers or executives in Operations, as well as to professionals in Research & Development, Sales, or Finance & Administration who work hand in hand with their colleagues from Operations. A knowledge of Operations will help all of them to enable a smooth and successful running of an industrial company, creating value. It will also help those providing services to industrial companies, because these services most often support their customers’ Operations.

It illustrates the basic aspects of running Operations in an industrial company, the interactions and the information exchanged with other functions. It answers the questions: what is the supply chain? who are the key players? what are the possible industrial footprints and business models to adopt? which are the processes and functions involved? how to manage that all together? 

This is complemented by the author’s first-hand experience in applying this knowledge in companies, and in coaching bachelor and masters students in a large number of hands-on projects. Do not expect a summary of academic publications and books, but a pragmatic how-to manual. A second book builds on this one, showing how to go beyond just managing Operations, by applying continuous improvement methods, in search of excellence.                                                                                                 

"There is no substitute for knowledge." (E. Deming)

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From the Author

In this interview you can find out more about what the first book "Operations Management - Homo Faber at Work" is about and how I came to write it. The interview was held by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU). As the original interview is in German, you can read the translation in English below.

Table of contents

Introduction to Operations
A definition of Operations - The supply chain - The history of making - Four industrial revolutions - The increasing speed of making - The impact of speed on Operations - What is next for Operations

Business Models
The typical roles - More business models - Manufacturing and logistic footprint


The quality revolution - Quality norms - Managing quality in a company - Quality issues from the field

Definition of logistics - Product master data - Inbound and Outbound Logistics - Transportation - Factory logistics: storage - Factory logistics: conveyance - Inventory management - Identification and traceability - Materials Requirements Planning - Logistic anomalies: the bullwhip effect

The purchasing processes - The purchasing organisation - Sourcing strategies - Supplier management - Relevance and complexity of Purchasing

Production types - Production infrastructure & layout - Production processes and organisation - Production time - Process master data - Machine maintenance and utilisation - Production bottlenecks - Production planning and scheduling - Production transfers - The move of production to the East

Cost accounting
One common language - The basic financial statements - Costs - Cost centre costing - Product costing - Cost distortions - How to evaluate investments

Safety & Environment
Risk management - Safety in the workplace - Environment - Environment, Social & Governance 

Managing Operations

Orienting Operations to results - Operational KPI - Meetings in Operations - Management review - The motivation to make

Fourth Revolution Trends
Everything new? - Broaden your Operations - Opportunities, actions & risks - Conclusions

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Book endorsements

Martin Hirzel, President SwissMem
Manufacturing is important for any country’s economy. Through this book, the reader grasps how industrial companies work in the real world. It prepares to create more value for customers, companies and countries.

Philipp Morgenthaler, Head of Manufacturing, Circa Group
An exhaustive overview of Operations in the industrial world. Recommended to all those who want to understand the many tasks, interactions and challenges one faces there, to be ready to improve them later. 

Vincent Eckert, CEO Swiss Climate foundation
Employees of all companies need to better understand the basics of Operations and the enormous impact that these have on the Environment. Only employees who “see” interdependencies, can contribute to make their companies more sustainable.

Shaun West, Professor for Product & Service Innovation HSLU
Today we take Operations Management all too often for granted and focus on Industry 4.0. This book gives the reader solid foundations first, to understand where new technologies can enable companies and managers to excel, with Products, Operations and Services.


About the author