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FIGURE 18-7. A leveling off of the learning curve.

EXPERIENCE (CUMULATIVE UNITS PRODUCED)

FIGURE 18-7. A leveling off of the learning curve.

A rise in the curve can occur in the middle of a contract too, owing to a substantial interruption (such as that caused by introducing changes in a model, by moving operations to a new building, or by halting operations for a while so that forgetting occurs). Shortly after operations recommence and skill in handling changes is acquired, the curve declines rapidly to approach the old slope. Such a break in the curve occurs frequently enough to have acquired the descriptive term "scallop." In fact, if, instead of merely a change being made, a new model is introduced, or a new type of item is put into production, the scallop occurs initially and the curve essentially starts again. Thus, the direct labor input reverts back to what it had been when the first item of the preceding type was put into production (assuming that the two items were of similar type and configuration).

Worker dissatisfaction can also create a leveling off of the learning curve, as shown in Figure 18-7. This leveling off can also occur as a result of inefficiencies due to closing out of a production line or transferring workers to other activities at the end of a contract.

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