Josh’s Toy Manufacturing is a manufacturer of small toys that are included in kids’ meals at fast-food restaurants. Josh uses plastic injection technology to produce toys efficiently. Price is the main criterion restaurant chains use to determine whether they will buy toys from Josh’s or some other manufacturer.
One assembly line for toy manufacturing at Josh’s has four machines. Each machine requires an operator. Operator skill is important since an effective operator can often manufacture toys twice as fast as an ineffective operator. The four operators on the assembly line at Josh’s were hired a year ago when the new line began operation. Machine 1 is very loud, making its operation the least desirable job. Machines 2 and 3 are very similar and require operators to constantly push a variety of levers. Working on Machine 4 is the easiest job, as the operator does little more than monitor progress and push-buttons. The four operators currently rotate every hour so that each operator spends two hours on each machine during an eight-hour workday.
Supervisors have noted that production output varies depending on which operator is working on which machine. The chart shows this variance.
Analysis suggests that lower production during Hour 2 mostly results from Fred’s having trouble working with Machine 1. The noise bothers him more than the others, and he often takes short breaks to walk away from the machine and regain his composure. The relative high productivity during Hour 3 can be traced to having Bonnie work on Machine 4. Bonnie finds it especially difficult to work on Machines 2 and 3.
Given their current production process, the four operators produce an average of 2,610 units each day. If they worked all day in the Hour 3 configuration they could average 3,200 units each day, which would be a production increase of over 22 percent.
Do you recommend that the four machine operators continue to switch machines every hour? Would you recommend that the operators are permanently assigned to the machines they currently operate during Hour 3? What do you think would be the consequences of any changes you might recommend?
How can the principles of the mechanistic approach to job design inform a decision about how to assign workers to machines? What about the principles of the motivational approach? the perceptual approach? the biological approach?
How could job analysis be used to improve this assembly line?