The application of workload control in assembly job shops: An assessment by simulation

Matthias Thürer, Mark Stevenson, Cristovao Silva, George Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Workload control (WLC) is a production planning and control concept developed to meet the needs of smalland medium-sized make-to-order companies, where a job shop configuration is common. Although simulation has shown WLC can improve job shop performance, field researchers have encountered significant implementation challenges. One of the most notable challenges is the presence of 'assembly job shops' where product structures are more complex than typically modelled in simulation and where the final product consists of several sub-assemblies (or work orders) which have to be co-ordinated. WLC theory has not been developed sufficiently to handle such contexts, and the available literature on assembly job shops is limited. In response, this paper extends the applicability of WLC to assembly job shops by determining the best combination of: (i) WLC due date (DD) setting policy, (ii) release method and (iii) policy for coordinating the progress of work orders. When DDs are predominantly set by the company, the DD setting policy should play the leading role while the role of order release should be limited and the progress of work orders should not be co-ordinated in accordance with the DD of the final product. But when DDs are predominantly specified by customers, the importance of order release as a second workload balancing mechanism increases and work orders should be coordinated by backward scheduling from the DD of the final product. Results indicate that WLC can improve performance in assembly job shops and outperform alternative control policies. Future research should implement these findings in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5048-5062
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Assembly job shop
  • Customer enquiry management
  • Job shop control
  • Order release method
  • Workload control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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