|Waiting Line Management|
Understanding waiting lines or queues and learning how to manage them is one of the most important areas in operations management. Queuing theory is used in both manufacturing and service organizations to understand queues and to arrive at solutions to eliminate or minimize them.
The waiting line system consists of six major components: the source population, the way customers arrive at the service facility, the physical waiting line itself, the way customers are selected from the line, the characteristics of the service facility, and the condition of the customer exiting the system.
Arrivals at a service system may be drawn from a finite or limited customer pool or from a population that is large enough in relation to the service system so that changes do not significantly affect the system probabilities.
Another determinant of waiting line formation is the arrival characteristics of the queue members. The arrivals are far more controllable than normally recognized. Coupons, discounts, sales, and other methods can control demands on a system.
Queue lines can vary in length, in the number of lines used, and in the queue discipline or rules used for determining the order of service to customers. First come, first serviced is the most common priority rule. The service facility itself, with its particular flow and configuration can influence the queue. Computer spreadsheets are used to arrive at answers to waiting line problems. Computer simulations can also be used to arrive at solutions of more complex or dependent waiting line situations. Waiting line problems present challenges to management to attempt to eliminate them.