SUNConferences, Southern African Institute for Industrial Engineering 2014

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Nico Treurnicht, Lee Ann Stanley

Last modified: 2014-06-26


Although labour unrest in export fruit industries was limited to the Western Cape, the 50% increase in the minimum wage became applicable to the industry countrywide. Table grape packhouses in particular, are finding it difficult to increase productivity as the quality of the grapes has a major influence on operational parameters. Rapid changes of grape quality upset line balancing and increases unproductiveness.  Contract workers, especially in the Northern Cape,  do not have a broad educational background which adds to the challenge of increasing productivity. The labour cost increase has caused several producers to move away from traditional production line  Taylorism, to experiment with cellular layouts in their packhouses.The introduction of cellular manufacturing has been successful in some industries but less so in others. Implementation and whether cellular designs are actually more productive is not clear. Cellular facilities therefore do not appear to be a guaranteed solution to recover the minimum wage increase.The merit and the most suitable configuration of grape packaging cells are investigated. The design  places  an emphasis on reduced double handling for both productivity and grape quality purposes. An analysis of cellular principles and facilities in manufacturing is presented as the foundation of the work. The work is concluded with throughput measurements of different cellular configurations in the 2013/2014 packing season.

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