1.1 Background of Study

Industrialization is a part of a wider modernization process, where social change and economic development are closely related with technological innovation, particularly with the development of large scale energy and metallurgy production. It is the extensive organization of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing (Steven, 2003). In effect, industry is a product of industrialization.

Industry is an organized economic activity connected with production, manufacturing, or construction of a particular product or range of products. It is termed the process of making or growing things in large quantities, especially in a factory or on a farm so that they can be sold (Macmillan Dictionary, 2012). It is said to be an activity that involves many people, especially one that has become commercialized or standardized. Industry is further defined as the people or companies engaged in a particular kind of commercial enterprise; each industry has its own trade publications. (www.Wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn).

Industry has undergone series of transformation. Early industries involved manufacturing goods for trade. In medieval Europe, industry became dominated by the guilds in cities and towns, who offered mutual support for the member’s interests, and maintained standard industry workmanship and ethical conduct, as observed in Beck (1999). Industrial revolution led to the development of factories for large scale production with consequent changes in society.

Originally, the factories were steam powered but later transitioned to electricity once an electrical grid was developed. The mechanized assembly line was introduced to assemble parts in a repeatable fashion, with individual workers performing specific steps during the process. This led to significant increases in efficiency lowering the cost of the end product. Later, automation was increasingly used to replace human operators. This process has accelerated with the development of the computer and the robot (Julie, 2006).

Vegetable oil industry is one of the process industries. It involves the extraction and processing of oil and fats from vegetable sources. Series of activities and machine operations are involved from preparation of fruits to the packaging of the oil for sale.

As this industry carries out its various activities, that is, process the raw materials into finished products or service industries deliver their services, either the machines (servers/customers) or the materials (customers/servers) must wait for some time due to delay in arrival or service time. This leads to queue, that is, a situation where there is idle time for the server or customer to wait for service.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Vegetable oil plants are very important in the economy of the nation. They are Agro-based industry that is involved in the processing of seeds and fruits to produce vegetable oil. Among other Agro- processing plants, vegetable oil producing plants are most developed in the state with not less than 100 plants of various scales of production. Their operations in the State instigated lots of employment opportunity (above 1500), commercial opportunities and

Agricultural businesses and practices. Also, they contribute reasonably to the G.D.P. (Gross Domestic Product) of the national economy (about 43.6% in the 3rd quarter of 2011) with consequent reduction of vegetable oil importation. The oil produced is among the leading edible oil by production in the State. It serves as good source of consumable natural fat and oil with high calorific value, fat and oil for industrial application as well as food processing ingredient. As a result of these, there is high demand of the product. While the plants process the raw materials to meet the oil demand, the factors that promote economic and high productivity are encouraged and those that hamper them are discouraged since the activities of the plants add to national economic growth.

These queue problems, if not evaluated and understood, and the characteristics predicted for use in proper management, the economic loss due to the poor management of the queueing problems will contribute heavily to forcing this all-important Agro-processing plants to a close-down.

Some researchers such as (Sudhan, 2002), (Evim et al., 2009) and (Ogunfiditimi et al., 2010); (Ndukwe et al., 2011); (Chuka, 2014); (Flood, 1998); (Waffi, 1989); (Kolawole, 1973); etc., had carried out researches on queue problems of some industries; such as Hospital, Pharmacy store, Bank, traffic congestions in Telecommunication industry, machine shop, Tractor contracting operation, etc., respectively. No research seems to have been carried out on the evaluation of the queue problems in vegetable oil industry in Imo state. Although, various operation and production systems are instituted in the industry with their consequent queueing arrangements, the industry is still groping with queue system whose operation and performance characteristics are not clear to the investors. In effect management parameters are not available

Following these backdrops there is need to evaluate and bring to limelight, the management decision parameters for the system (vegetable oil industry in Imo state) to avert the close-down threat and the uneconomical situation that comes up due to the existence of these queues To resolve these backdrops, the research was proposed.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The main objectives of this study are the evaluation of queueing problems in selected vegetable oil plants in Imo state and application of the evaluation result for prediction and validation.

The specific objectives are to:

– identify the stable operation machine input in the industry.

– development of empirical equations for the relationship of some of the performance characteristics of the queue system in the plants and the industry

1.4 Significance of Study

Vegetable oil plants source their raw materials locally. As these raw materials arrive to the plant, processing commences. Due to the uncertain nature of the supply of raw materials, there are situations of excess supply and under supply. When there is excess supply, the rate of arrival of the raw material is greater than the rate of processing, hence the raw materials wait. When there is under supply, the rate of processing is greater than the rate of supply therefore the machines wait. These situations give rise to queue problems in the plants which range from; problems of storage facility, lost and spoilt materials, capital tied up in the raw material and machines, loss of goodwill of customers and payment of workers in idle situations. Management of these plants has been groping in an attempt to solving the queueing problems since there are no established decision parameters. These cumulate to economic loss affecting profit maximization. This work is being carried out, as a case study, to evaluate and establish the queueing characteristics as well as development of empirical relationship between some of the performance characteristics in the vegetable oil plants.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the stable operation machine input in the industry?
  2. What is result for waiting time and queue size management?

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study applies to selected vegetable oil plants, in Imo state of Nigeria, using palm kennel as raw material. The study will involve the structure of the queueing system, statistical distribution of the process system, and evaluation of queue characteristics using the corresponding mathematical model with various numbers of machines engaged.

Five plants producing vegetable oil using palm kernel in Imo state of Nigeria will be sampled.


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