Learning Curve Extract Essay

2081 Words May 17th, 2013 9 Pages
Technical Supplement 3
Learning Curves

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After studying this technical supplement, you should be able to: 1. Explain the learning curve concept 2. Identify different uses of learning curves in operations management 3. Calculate the estimated time required to do a task for a given learning curve

LEARNING CURVES AND OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT

As people gain experience in doing a task, they usually can do the task more quickly. For example, consider the time it might take someone to wash a car for the first time. Then imagine how that person might be able to wash his car in less time as through repetitions he learns to sequence the tasks more efficiently or perhaps as he uses better tools to do the tasks.
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Exhibit 1
Learning Curve – 80 Percent Learning Rate
[pic]

The learning curve is also sometimes referred to as an experience curve, a progress function, or an improvement function. Essentially, the learning curve is a mathematical function that can be used to chart the progress of workers as they learn to do their work faster. An operations manager can express the relationship between the amount of time it takes an organization with a learning rate percentage of r to produce the nth item as an equation:

Tn = T1 (nb)

Where:
Tn = time required to complete the nth task r = learning rate percentage b = ln(r)/ln(2)

Example:

Consider the information given in the aircraft manufacturing example above:

T1 = 100 minutes
T2 = 80 minutes
T4 = 64 minutes

What would be the time required to produce the eighth part?

T8 = (100)(8-0.322) = 51.2 minutes since b= ln(0.80)/ln(2) = -0.322

We can verify that this is the correct answer by remembering that the fourth unit required 64 minutes. Since the eighth unit represents a doubling of output beyond the fourth unit, we would expect its task time to be 80 percent of the time required for the fourth unit. Thus, T8 = 64(0.80) = 51.2. This is the same answer given by the learning curve equation

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