Manufacturing Breaks

The manufacturing break is the time lapse between the completion of an order or manufacturing run of certain units of equipment and the commencement of a follow-on order or restart of a manufacturing run for identical units. This time lapse disrupts the continuous flow of manufacturing and constitutes a definite cost impact. The time lapse under discussion here pertains to significant periods of time (weeks and months), as opposed to the minutes or hours for personnel allowances, machine delays, power failures, and the like.

It is logical to assume that because the experience curve has a time-cost relationship, a break will affect both time and cost. Therefore, the length of the break becomes as significant as the length of the initial order or manufacturing run. Because the break is quantifiable, the remaining factor to be determined is the cost of this lapse in manufacturing (that is, the additional cost incurred over and above that which would have been incurred had either the initial order or the run continued through the duration of the follow-on order or the restarted run).

When a manufacturer relies on experience curves as management information tools, it can be assumed that the necessary, accurate data for determining the initial curves have been accumulated, recorded, and properly validated. Therefore, if the manufacturer has experienced breaks, the experience curve data for the orders (lots) or runs involved should be available in such form that appropriate curves can be developed.

George Anderlohr suggests a method that assumes loss of learning is dependent on five factors5:

5. George Anderlohr, "What Product Breaks Costs," Industrial Engineering, September 1969, pp. 34-36.

Learning Curve Limitations

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