Productive Systems and examples

In the most general terms, productive systems can be defined as the means by which resources are transformed from inputs to create useful goods and services as outputs. This transformation process may be through various manufacturing activities with specific operation processes. In some cases it can be batch type and others continuous process type.

The input – conversion – output sequence is a useful way to conceptualize productive systems, beginning with the smallest unit of productive activity, which we commonly refer to as an operation. An operation is some step in the overall process of producing a product or service that leads to the final output. For example, in auto assembly, the operation of installing the right hand door has inputs like the door panel, anchor pins and other materials, fixtures to hold the door in place while it is being assembled, etc., the assembly process itself, and an output consists of the car body with the door installed, all of which carry assembly forward one more step.
Taking a service oriented example, obtaining a driver’s license commonly involves the step (operation) of paying a fee.

These steps or operation are organized into appropriate sequences to produce larger systems of production. The resource inputs may take a wide variety of forms. In manufacturing operations, the inputs are various raw materials, energy, labor machines, facilities, information, and technology. In service oriented systems, the inputs are likely to be dominated by labor, but depending on the particular system, inputs common to manufacturing may also be important, as in health care systems. In food service systems, raw materials are an important input. Managing productive systems involves controlling the conversion process and all the variables that affect its performance.

Examples of Productive systems:

Although many productive systems are very complex, such as electronic assembly, airplane manufacture, steel production, automobile assembly, and many others, we shall use a simple example that is nonetheless a valid productive system. Almost everyone has been to a fast food outlet. One may not think about how carefully the system for producing the food items has been worked out on the one hand or about how much though has gone into the way you are served on the other. But a fast food outlet is a service oriented system, and the efficiency with which you and your order are handled, including the time required to serve you, and your reaction to the physical surroundings are important factors in how you judge the enterprise and the likelihood that you will return after your first encounter. Of course, the other factors are the quality of the food and its price.

If we look at the system in terms of conversion processes ground meat is converted into forming it into patties, frying it and assembling it with pieces of lettuce, pickles, and so forth into a hamburger. Similarly, simple operations are performed to produce French fries. The output of the system in this instance is a combination of physical product and service rendered and we refer to it as a “bundles of products and services”

Another way to look at the fast food system is in terms of the customers. Using the customers as our focus, we would say that the inputs are hungry customers; the conversion process is that as mentioned above. And the output is sated or ‘satisfied customers in the sense that their hunger has been gratified. It indicates the diversity and pervasiveness of such system in our society and demonstrates that the conversions can be physical, chemical or location (as with transportation) and that all kinds of economic activity can be viewed in this productive system format, including manufacturing, services, and public systems.