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Optimising workload norms: The influence of shop floor characteristics on setting workload norms for the workload control concept

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2011
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Production Research
Issue number4
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)1151-1171
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Workload control (WLC) is a leading production planning and control (PPC) solution for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and make-to-order (MTO) companies, but when WLC is implemented, practitioners find it difficult to determine suitable workload norms to obtain optimum performance. Theory has provided some solutions (e.g., based on linear programming) but, to remain optimal, these require the regular feedback of detailed information from the shop floor about the status of work-in-process (WIP), and are therefore often impractical. This paper seeks to predict workload norms without such feedback requirements, analysing the influence of shop floor characteristics on the workload norm. The shop parameters considered are flow characteristics (from an undirected pure job shop to a directed general flow shop), and the number of possible work centres in the routing of a job (i.e., the routing length). Using simulation and optimisation software, the workload norm resulting in optimum performance is determined for each work centre for two aggregate load-oriented WLC approaches: the classical and corrected load methods. Results suggest that the performance of the classical approach is heavily affected by shop floor characteristics but no direct relationship between the characteristics and norm to apply could be established. In contrast, results suggest that the performance of the corrected load approach is not influenced by shop floor characteristics and the workload norm which results in optimum performance is the same for all experiments. Given the changing nature of MTO production and the difficulties encountered with the classical approach, the corrected load approach is considered a better and more robust option for implementation in practice. Future simulations should investigate the influence of differing capacities across work centres on the workload norm while action research should be conducted to apply the findings in practice.