Human Performance in Planning and Scheduling

By Bart MacCarthy; John Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTERNINETEEN

Planning and Scheduling in Secondary Work Systems
Toni Wäfler
19.1

INTRODUCTION
In a world of increasingly turbulent markets and growing technical complexity of products and production processes it is a core problem of work systems to cope with uncertainty. Many different activities are performed within work systems to deal with this problem. Temporal planning and scheduling are part of these activities, meant to cope with uncertainties that arise in matching dynamic production demands with potentially unstable production resources. This sets up some peculiarities of temporal planning and scheduling (e.g. McKay, 1987, 1992; Weth von der and Strohschneider, 1993; Schüpbach, 1994; Wiers, 1997):
• Information to be processed may be incomplete, ambiguous, dynamic and of stochastic nature.
• Information flow follows feed forward as well as feed back and formal as well as informal structures.
• Decisions to be taken may be highly interrelated not only in content but also time wise. This causes dynamic complexity in planning and scheduling: today's solutions entail tomorrow's problems.
• Goals to be followed may not be independent-even if set clearly: minimising lead times as well as machine idle time are contradictory.
• Information processing and decision-making may be distributed among many different (human and non-human) actors.
• Result oriented performance measurement and even more process-oriented evaluation of planning and scheduling practices may be constrained due to temporal delays between actions and effects as well as unclear mutual relations.

These characteristics indicate that temporal planning and scheduling cannot be considered as tasks that can be isolated and allocated to a clearly defined agent, be it a human scheduler or a sophisticated technology. They must rather be considered as a process that takes place within a complex system consisting of humans, organisational structures and technology that are highly interrelated. Optimising one part of the system e.g. the planning and scheduling technology or the human scheduler's task might lead to a sub-optimal performance of the system as a whole. What is needed instead is a joint optimisation of people, organisation and technology, as the sociotechnical systems approach demands (cf. Emery, 1959; Alioth, 1980; Ulich, 1998; with a special focus on planning and scheduling

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