Presentation Slides


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Why this is a concern?

The effects of labor turnover on production yields can be staggering. For instance, in a simulation study performed by Hutchinson (1995), it was found that in a serial assembly line with five operators and a moderate monthly turnover rate of 6%, throughput was reduced by 12.6% and that, with a 12% turnover rate, the reduction in yield was as high as 16.3%.

Labor turnover can be one of the main hurdles in the advancement of some industry segments. In fact, high employee turnover is frequently cited as a major contributor to the lagging productivity and competitiveness of US-based industry (Phillips 1990). The high tech industry of the Silicon Valley in California (Ojo 1999) and the Maquiladora industry in the El Paso/Juarez region are clear examples of industry segments with high levels of personnel turnover. For instance, monthly turnover rates of over 15% are not uncommon in the El Paso/Juarez region (Stoddard 1987, Verdugo 1990).

These high turnover rates exist in spite of long established programs used by industry to reduce turnover by giving incentives to the workers to remain at their places of employment.

What are we doing?

The main objective of the NSF grant DMI-0100370 is to be searching for engineering solutions that help cope with the problems caused by labor turnover.

The work under the grant focuses on two main issues:

  1. Finding pro-active work allocation and operator replacement policies that result in assembly lines that are less affected by labor turnover, and
  2. Developing operational rules that can be used on the factory floor for the effective management of serial assembly lines subject to labor turnover.

Because the existing evidence indicates a high potential for their success in high labor turnover environments, we are focusing our attention on the use of production systems working under the concept of dynamic work allocation, such as bucket brigades and work sharing. In the present study an analytical approach is taken to determine optimal designs for assembly lines under different levels of turnover and operator replacement policies.

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