SUNConferences, Southern African Institute of Industrial Engineering 2013

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Can Productivity Improvement Absorb the 2013 Minimum Wage Increase?: An Overview of Cellular Facility Design for Table Grape Packaging
Nico Treurnicht

Last modified: 2013-06-20


Labour unrest in export fruit and grape production industries in the Western Cape has resulted in an unprecedented 50% increase in the minimum wage. Grape packing facilities are typically characterised by rapidly changing raw material attributes disrupting line balancing. Additionally, the workers have low levels of training leading to productivity levels with room for improvement. The looming labour cost increase has precipitated several producers to depart from traditional Taylorism, to introduce cellular organisation in their grape packing facilities.

Cellular manufacturing has been used with success in automotive supply chains to reduce cost and mobilise labour to participate in group incentive schemes. In many other cases however, classic production lines, concurrent multi-product lines, JIT/Lean/Kanban systems, TOC/Drum Buffer Rope or recently introduced velocity scheduled functional facilities have their supporters claiming superiority over cellular manufacturing. Cellular facilities therefore do not appear to be a guaranteed solution to recover the minimum wage increase.

This study investigates the potential of cellular production in the grape packing environment. Factors such as reduced double handling, supported by a simulation and measured results are considered against an analysis of enablers as published in literature relating to the manufacturing industry.