Stevenson, M and Huang, Y and Hendry, L (2009) The develoment and application of an interactive end-user training tool: part of an implementation strategy for workload control. Production Planning and Control, 20 (7). pp. 622-635. ISSN 0953-7287
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Workload control (WLC) is a production planning and control (PPC) concept designed for complex manufacturing environments, with particular relevance to make-to-order (MTO) companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Despite receiving much attention in the literature, few successful implementations have been reported. Moreover, a lack of awareness regarding WLC in industry affects the support it receives from employees within a company and, if implemented, it is sometimes misused or neglected. This article presents a new interactive WLC training and implementation tool developed within a WLC decision support system (DSS) which uses simulation to generate the incoming order stream at the customer enquiry and job entry stages and to mirror the throughput time variability on the shop floor of real-life manufacturing environments. This provides an action-learning package for end-users in order to improve understanding of the concept and generate support prior to implementation. In particular, the tool provides training and decision-making experience in: parameter setting; due date setting; the acceptance/rejection of jobs; scheduling intervention; order release decisions; and capacity management. This article reports on the application of the tool as part of a strategy to implement WLC in a small subcontract MTO company. Among other results, use of the tool: improved understanding of WLC; highlighted gaps between current business processes and those supported by WLC; and led to rethinking the choice of end-user for the DSS.
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