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5.26 - Labour Balancing

Labour balancing is the re-distribution of operators that highlights problems and improves productivity. The technique is outlined through an example where job content for workers in a natural group or cell is as follows:-

Labour balancing

By dividing whole jobs into individual job elements, summing the times and dividing by the required piece cycle time we deduce the number of operators required.

The total process carried out by each operator must be defined via a process flow chart with value added and no-value added listings.

From the example with 1 piece required each minute:

Number of operators =

(0.6 + 0.9 + 0.7 + 0.4 + 0.8) / 1 minute = 3.4

Therefore we can round up to 4 operators.

Labour balancing - Split into elements

The whole Job split into individual elements

Typical Western Approach

Labour Balancing - Western Approach

There is a saving of one worker. The jobs have been shared among the remaining four BUT also the inefficiency has been shared as well. The shared inefficiency is not easily recognised and the inefficiency problems have not been highlighted.

An improvement, to highlight the inefficiency and to provide a focus for continuous improvement, is to distribute the jobs as shown below:-

A Lean Approach

Labour Balancing - a Lean Approach

This approach means that a small improvement can now release worker D. This an essential part of any manufacturing systems re-design, not only to provide a step change, but also to create an environment for continuous improvement.