Impact of materials exposure on assembly workstation performance
Journal article, 2011

This paper examines how the choice of materials exposure impacts workstation performance, in terms of non-value-adding work, space requirements and ergonomics. In a typical Swedish automotive setting, components are exposed in wooden pallets with frames beside the assembly line and supplied by forklift truck. In a case study, three workstations on an assembly line were studied and redesigned following the principles of lean production, using smaller plastic containers for the materials exposure. After the redesign, the space required for materials was reduced by 67%, non-value-adding work decreased by 20%, and walking distance was reduced by 52%. Furthermore, the ergonomics for the assembly operator improved greatly, with a 92% reduction of potentially harmful picking activities, thereby almost eliminating potentially harmful body movements. The theoretical contribution of this paper is firstly the development of an analysis model describing the impact of material exposure on workstation performance and secondly development of the existing categorization of work operations to include different materials handling activities. The most important managerial implication is an increased understanding of the relationship between space, ergonomics, non-value-adding work and materials exposure. These findings have direct implications on workstation design in industry.

lean production

Materials handling


materials supply




Christian Finnsgård

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Logistics & Transportation

Carl Wänström

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Logistics & Transportation

Lars Medbo

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Logistics & Transportation

Patrick Neumann

Ryerson University

International Journal of Production Research

0020-7543 (ISSN) 1366-588X (eISSN)

Vol. 49 24 7253-7274

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Mechanical Engineering

Areas of Advance





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