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4.18 - Job Structure Simplification

Problem Definition and Overview

The consequences of over-specialised functional job structures based on the now traditional approaches of F W Taylor, F Gilbreth and others for low variety mass production are:-

  • Too many specialist job titles - typically over 20 in a shop-floor environment
  • Excessive demarcation
  • Poor labour flexibility if product, or task, mix changes
  • Over-manning
  • Poor team work
  • Foreman role devalued - largely progress chasing
  • Difficult work flow planning and control
  • Poor product quality and excessive inspection overhead costs
  • Very low productivity

Skill Levelling Solution to Simplify Job Structures

Create natural cellular groupings using teams centred on simplified and integrated cell work flows with NVA removed, standard working and systematic waste reduction continuous improvement or TQM practices introduced (see guide 4.12 & 5.02).

Define clearly the minimum number of fundamental roles required to make a cell work - five job titles minimum:-

  1. Leadership of team - Cell or Module Leader
  2. Materials flow Planning - Cell Controller
  3. Cross functional technical Support - Manufacturing Craftsman
  4. Product Manufacture - Manufacturer or Operator
  5. Materials Movement - Materials Controller

Note: depending upon cell complexity and product types:-

Roles 1 and 2 may combine into one job

Roles 2 and 3 may combine into one job

Roles 4 and 5 may combine into one job

Skill Levelling Solution to Simplify Job Structures

  • Provide cross- functional training to allow downward and transverse interchange when needed.
  • Horizontal combination into a single job may be possible.
  • Put quality control on line as a part of each job - and train staff.
  • Teach all staff problem definition and problem solving techniques using graphs, bar diagrams, pie charts, input - output charts, Ishikawa fishbone cause and effect diagrams, from-to charts and flow charting with value-added and no value added symbols to aid continuous improvement (see guide 2.03).
  • Train staff and provide support aids to carry out maintenance tasks and quick process changeover tasks and their improvement (see guide 5.25).
  • Train cell leader (i.e. do not continue to operate the traditional foreman role) in:-
    • Team Management for operational effectiveness and continuous improvement
    • Quality Circle practices and waste elimination
    • Planning and cell levelled scheduling for runner-repeater-stranger and tool flow management (see guides 5.14 & 5.23)
    • The setting and monitoring of MOPS for scheduling achievement, stock turns, quality and lead time.
  • Train all cell team in cell flow chart, standard working routines, changeover practices, SPC, and daily stand-up meeting practices.
    • Provide a cell reference handbook for each member of the team and keep updated via continuous improvement
    • Provide regular top-up training

RESULT - improved flexibility, productivity, motivation, effectiveness, performance and adaptability to change - also the creation of a DEVELOPMENT culture in support of a shop-floor OPERATIONS culture.

Skill Levelling Balanced Against Tasks


Manufacturing Operations

Manufacturing Engineering

Business Development

Commercial & Support Operations


Module Leader

Technical Manager Consultant



Cell Leader

Senior Industrial Engineer

Senior Engineer

Senior professional


Cell Controller Manufacturing Craftsman

Industrial Engineer


Professional Technician / Support Staff



Industrial Engineering Technician


Further Reading