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Benefits of Skill Chaining in Serial Production Lines with Cross-Trained Workers


Author Info

  • Wallace J. Hopp

    (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3119)

  • Eylem Tekin

    (Department of Operations Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3180)

  • Mark P. Van Oyen

    (Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, Loyola University Chicago, 25 East Pearson Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2196)

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    To gain insight into the potential logistical benefits of worker cross-training and agile workforce policies, we study simple models of serial production systems with flexible servers operating under a constant work-in-process (CONWIP) release policy. Two important and interrelated issues are: (a) how to decide which skill(s) are strategically most desirable for workers to gain, and (b) how to coordinate these workers to respond dynamically to congestion. We address these by considering two cross-training strategies: a straightforward capacity-balancing approach, which we call cherry picking (CP), and an innovative overlapping zone strategy that we call skill chaining. Our comparison shows that skill-chaining strategies have the potential to be robust and efficient methods for implementing workforce agility in serial production lines.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 50 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 83-98

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:50:y:2004:i:1:p:83-98

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    Related research

    Keywords: cross-training; workforce; agile production; CONWIP;


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    Cited by:
    1. Schneider, Michael & Grahl, Jörn & Francas, David & Vigo, Daniele, 2013. "A problem-adjusted genetic algorithm for flexibility design," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(1), pages 56-65.
    2. White, Sheneeta W. & Badinelli, Ralph D., 2012. "A model for efficiency-based resource integration in services," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 217(2), pages 439-447.
    3. Tanrisever, Fehmi & Morrice, Douglas & Morton, David, 2012. "Managing capacity flexibility in make-to-order production environments," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 216(2), pages 334-345.
    4. Jörn Grahl & Michael Schneider & David Francas, 2010. "A Problem-Specific and Effective Metaheuristic for Flexibility Design," Working Papers 1001, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 28 Jan 2010.
    5. Costa, Alysson M. & Miralles, Cristóbal, 2009. "Job rotation in assembly lines employing disabled workers," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 625-632, August.


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