Engström, T. and Jonsson, D. (2016). Development and Application of (Certain) Principles for Work Structuring
Preprint, 2015

This manuscript is an extensive book (or preprint not yet finished to due to one the author’s retirement) summaries four decades research and development work dealing with development work of alternatives to assembly lines and assembly line work, as have been the case for one of the two authors from a technical point of departure (he is a senior research competency in mechanical engineering). On the other hand, the other authors have an even longer time perspective, but he has a social science background (he is a senior research competency within sociology for more than four decades).

That is, they have been working at Chalmers University of Technology respectively at Gothenburg University all throughout their professional life. This while they both are belonging to a normative sociotechnical research tradition earlier at hand in the Gothenburg area, which actually has emanated from specific precursors at Gothenburg University (i.e. mainly professor Edmund Dalhström at the Department of Sociology), this research tradition was later on brought over to Chalmers by professor Ulf Karlsson responsible for operation management at the same university.

It is fair to state that this research area required the amalgamation of technical as well as social science aspects. Efforts that during the passing years have been substantiated by extensive help and support from the Swedish automotive industry (Saab Scania and Volvo companies, as well as other parts of the industry) and also from several governmental research foundations. In fact, a truer cross and multi-science research approach than what usually is at hand has always been required.

The extensive book manuscript is exceeding more than 600 pages. Twelve chapters exists as well as also a number of freestanding appendixes and the necessary (all-pervading) definitions of primary concepts and term in combination with explaining various synonyms and homonyms (a particular dilemma for cross and multi-science approaches) (i.e. are we in agreement with the text it alone, or are we eventually together understanding the underlying meaning).

Moreover, the text is scrutinized by word process programs in form of Word as well as by the professional English check-up program Grammarly) and all of the necessary figures are completed. i.e. several revisions of this manuscript have been iterated first between the authors and later on against other parties. Most notable are external revisions by two senior research competencies (professor David Bennet responsible for operation management at Aston Business School, Birmingham and professor Lennart Nilsson responsible for vocational learning and training at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg).

The authoring just described (involving the initiated hinted just above) have occupied our minds for more than one decade (our co-authoring and work with specific Japanese research colleagues, have most certainly underlined a need for careful writing, since among other things just nicking the practitioners’ nomenclature will be misleading, as is also the case while relaying on one or a few scientific research areas) (see some of the other publications registrated in Chalmers Public Library CLP) (it is most certainly an extensive research area, and the skills needed to be mastered in order to understand are indeed wide).

The underlying principles of any (real-life) assembly system must, according to our understanding, are inventible required to be explained. Thus, it is important for the analyst to grasp whether or not the principle applied is correct or if the practice is questionable. This means, metaphorically speaking, is the original drawings accurate or have the execution (practice) faulty.

The two most sociotechnically advanced (real-life) assembly systems both proved to be successful (more efficient and flexible in relation to comparable assembly lines, and work and work conditions were far better). They were both based on correct principles (i.e. the nowadays defunct Volvo Uddevalla plant and the so-called assembly docks at the Volvo Tuve heavy truck chassis plant located in Gothenburg). As will become evident by the content brought forward in this extensive book manuscript.

A comment. The most socio-technically advanced assembly system designs inventible requires reformed/reconfigured information systems dealing with product data (which in turn defines the product architecture and product variation). In fact, no any such (real-life) plant or assembly system would work as anticipated otherwise. And this publication is to some extent describing some selected aspects of this (very) dilemma (changing information systems are usually not something considered than designing assembly systems) (thus are totally new plants – and in turn totally new information systems – most often the real practical change to create something unorthodox) (however, which scientist will gain such opportunities, this is really rare, i.e. the projection of the Volvo Uddevalla plant was thus an exception and the trust given by the industry – by Volvo Uddevalla project organisation – was appreciated by some of the authors).

long work cycle times

manufacturing technology

work organisation

restructuring of information systems

alternatives to lean production

learning and training


cognitive aspects of work

materials feeding techniques

alternatives to line assembly

work structuring

assembly work


autonomous work groups



Tomas Engström

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Logistik och transport

Dan Jonsson

Göteborgs universitet


Annan teknik

Övrig annan teknik

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