Effects of group size and learning on manual assembly performance: an experimental study

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In variable manual assembly production of highly customised products, effective allocation of workers to products is required. To support decision making here, industrial managers should be aware of the performance effects of the number of workers and learning within individual products. Evidence on such fundamental effects requires laboratory studies with products similar to those in real assembly industries. Because of the lack of such studies, this paper studies experimentally the effects of group size (one to four workers) and learning (up to four repetitions per group) on the performance of product assembly. The product, built for the purpose of the present study, consists of representative elements from real products in the mechanical engineering industry. A total of 68 undergraduate students participated in the experiments. The results from the experiments are in line with the hypotheses that the mean assembly time decreases at a decelerating rate as a function of both group size and repetitions, and that productivity per worker decreases as a function of group size. The results are explained in more detail through the experiences of the participants. Managerial implications and aspects for future research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-469
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • group size
  • learning
  • manual assembly
  • productivity
  • experimental study
  • mechanical engineering


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