Service level improvement due to worker cross training with stochastic worker absence
K. Altendorfer, A. Schober, J. Karder, A. Beham - Service level improvement due to worker cross training with stochastic worker absence - INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRODUCTION RESEARCH, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2020, pp. 1-18
To react on increasing customer demand uncertainty, production systems have to be flexible concerning the provided capac-ity. With respect to labour, one opportunity to gain such flexibility is to assign workers to different work stations whichoften require different skills to be operated. Therefore, cross-trained workers are needed to enable this flexibility. Since thequalifying workforce implies costs, a relevant problem is how much skills and what mix of skills is optimal for a produc-tion system. In addition, the workforce may be on vacation or have a sick leave and hence is not always available. In thispaper, we study the effect of different predefined workforce qualification profiles for a streamlined production system withsimulation and compare the results with simulation-based optimisation using a genetic algorithm. Specifically the effectof stochastic worker absence, in comparison to workers being always available, is evaluated for different production sys-tem scenarios. The results show that cross-trained workers can significantly improve the service level achieved and thatsimulation-based optimisation can provide a much better worker specific mix of skills than predefined qualification profiles.Another managerial insight is that there is a trade-off between number of skills and number of workers needed to obtain thesame service level.