Incorporating the Impact of Learning in Assessing the Effectiveness of Cellular Manufacturing

V. R. Kannan


Previous studies suggest that despite their intuitive appeal, cellular manufacturing systems are only effective in a batch production environment under a limited set of conditions. However, these studies have not taken into account the potential for productivity improvements unique to shops organized around product and work groups. Improvements that yield processing time reductions and rapid movement down the learning curve may offset the limited flexibility that typically compromises the performance of cellular shops. This paper demonstrates that if a cellular shop can yield even marginally greater reductions in processing times than a job shop, it can outperform the job shop under conditions previously thought to be unfavourable to a cellular shop. Learning curve theory is used to show that this can be achieved at modest levels of output and also under conditions not typically associated with cellular shop configurations.