Managing premature idleness in high-variety manufacturing

Thimo Bergenhenegouwen, T. A.Arno Kasper*, Jos A.C. Bokhorst, Martin J. Land

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This paper shows the effectiveness of labour transfers in addressing premature idleness caused by controlled order release. Controlled order release restricts order entry to the shop floor and is commonly employed in high-variety manufacturing where it results in benefits such as stable work-in-progress. However, it can increase waiting times when orders are blocked from release, while capacities are idling. This issue, known as premature idleness, negatively impacts delivery performance. Previous studies have primarily focused on addressing premature idleness through input control by releasing new orders to idling workstations. This approach overlooks the potential of output control during premature idleness, transferring labour to assist at other workstations in a dual resource constrained setting. Using simulation, this study demonstrates that output control significantly improves delivery performance—in terms of mean tardiness and percentage tardy—and reduces total and shop floor throughput times. Importantly, this result proves robust, even when the efficiency of the assisting worker is severely limited. Shop-level performance improves despite the efficiency loss of the worker. The impact of the where-rule is minimal, while the efficacy of the priority dispatching rule depends on the joint efficiency of collaborating workers. Finally, we show that combining input control and output control enhances performance, providing opportunities for further research on the role of both control approaches in high-variety manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFlexible Services and Manufacturing Journal
Early online date10-Nov-2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10-Nov-2023


  • Labour transfers
  • Order release
  • Premature idleness
  • Workload control

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