Preliminary Study in a Learning Factory on Functional Flexibility of the Workforce
6 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 31, 2022
Complex production systems consist of many tasks and require extensive training of employees to ensure productivity and quality. Functional flexibility defines how many tasks each employee needs to be trained on and provides a significant added value to determine possible deployment of each employee. Increasing flexibility leads to constant learning and forgetting of tasks and work contents caused by constantly alternating employee and task combinations. In a preliminary study, we built a scenario inside a learning factory to investigate effects caused by functional flexibility. The study was embedded in a one-day training course where students learned about basics of lean production. The production environment of the study consisted of three consecutive workstations with defined assembly tasks. The participants performed three production runs spread over one day by two groups with either a minimum or a maximum level of functional flexibility. Results show that training losses increase within the group of higher flexibility because of lower productivity caused by learning effects. Significant forgetting effects provoked by break duration were not observed because the length of the breaks were not sufficient enough to cause the forgetting phenomenon.
The study provides valuable insight into design and execution of experimental studies in learning factories and allows a basis for further research activities. Future studies benefit from a discussion of limitations regarding design and execution to enable detailed research on employee deployment or functional flexibility in learning factories.
Keywords: Functional flexibility, Learning behaviour, Job-rotation, Experimental study, Cross-training
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