Performance of serial assembly line designs under unequal operator speeds and learning

A. Montano, J. R. Villalobos, M. A. Gutierrez, L. Mar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The traditional balanced assembly line designs can perform quite inefficiently under the presence of high labor turnover, low operator learning rates, and stochastic processing times. In these situations assembly line designs based on dynamic work allocation and work sharing principles have been shown to render a higher and less variable throughput. However, for situations where low labor turnover conditions and high operator learning rates exist, the traditional balanced lines still tend to be most productive. This paper has two objectives: to introduce a method based on work sharing principles, which we denominate Modified Work Sharing (MWS), and to develop some simple analytical tools that will allow us to compare the performance of this method with the traditional and other dynamic work allocation line designs. These results suggest that the traditional method is the most affected by the introduction of new operators in the production lines and thus the most affected by variability in general. On the other hand, dynamic work allocation methods appear to better absorb the variability introduced by new operators by sharing the workload of new operators with the more experienced members of the line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5355-5381
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Active operator replacement
  • Dynamic work allocation
  • Labor turnover
  • Learning curves
  • Serial assembly lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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