The purpose of this paper is to investigate the tradeoffs between efficiency and flexibility in production processes involve a cross-trained workforce. The study quantifies production losses that stem from worker learning and forgetting in a cross-training environment.
The paper examines multiple levels of cross-training in the context of several workplace factors including absenteeism, turnover, process change frequency, and process change magnitude using discrete event simulation. The parameters of the simulation model are informed by data from a operating manufacturing system.
Results suggest that productivity gains obtained from a moderate level of cross-training (e.g. two tasks) can outweigh the production losses from additional training, and that adding further cross-training beyond this may negatively affect system performance.
Production systems exist in an environment of process change and competitive pressure. Cross-training is an often-used operational technology for managing process knowledge in an environment of change as well as providing employees with a richer work environment. While the potential benefits of enriching the workplace experience include greater motivation, less boredom and fatigue, greater task vigilance, and other effects generally regarded as beneficial, productivity losses brought about by training and retraining disruptions associated with cross-training have not been examined as widely.
This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, for the author under Grant SES-0435948.
A. Nembhard, D. (2014), "Cross training efficiency and flexibility with process change", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34 No. 11, pp. 1417-1439. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-06-2012-0197Download as .RIS
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