Developing Slope Measures

Research by the Stanford Research Institute revealed that many different slopes were experienced by different manufacturers, sometimes on similar manufacturing programs. In fact, manufacturing data collected from the World War II aircraft manufacturing industry had slopes ranging from 69.7 percent to almost 100 percent. These slopes averaged 80 percent, giving rise to an industry average curve of 80 percent. Other research has developed measures for other industries, such as 95.6 percent for a sample of 162 electronics programs. Unfortunately, this industry average curve is frequently misapplied by practitioners who use it as a standard or norm. When estimating slopes without the benefit of data from the plant of the manufacturer, it is better to use learning curve slopes from similar items at the manufacturer's plant rather than the industry average.

The analyst needs to know the slope of the learning curve for a number of reasons. One is to facilitate communication, because it is part of the language of the learning curve theory. The steeper the slope (lower the percent), the more rapidly the resource requirements (hours) will decline as production increases. Accordingly, the slope of the learning curve is usually an issue in production contract negotiation. The slope of the learning curve is also needed to project follow-on costs, using either learning tables or a computer. Also, a given slope may be established as a standard based on reliable historical experience. Learning curves developed from actual experience on current production can then be compared against this standard slope to determine whether the improvement on a particular contract is or is not reasonable.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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