Systematic Pedagogy to Line Balancing with EXCEL

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Thomas Lovejoy-Henkel
Jimin Lee
Donna Parsons
Robert DeWitt Yearout


Over the past ten years, simple and inexpensive operations research software that is user friendly to the mentor, student, and instructor has become difficult to obtain.  This is especially true since Emmons, Flowers, Khot, and Mathur’s STORM 4.0 for Windows is obsolete for current 32 and 64 bit operating systems and no longer in print.  After a diligent product and literature search, it appears there is no adequate inexpensive software that is easily available.  Assembly line balancing algorithms are heuristic methods used for balancing operations or production lines.  However, most methods employ complex calculations that are challenging to the mentor and mentee.  This paper presents a pedagogy from a systems approach using Microsoft EXCEL.  The object is to prepare a spreadsheet file with four separate worksheets that are linked to the first worksheet.  The step-by-step systematic approach allows the entry on the main worksheet of data such as an annual demand, annual time available, and process times. When the user changes these data entry points, the efficiencies of each operating or production line are automatically re-computed for all three shifts.  Worksheets use one of the several available heuristics to compute cycle times (required time between process activities) and transfers it to one, two, or three shifts (worksheets two, three, or four).  Once the spreadsheet and accompanying worksheets were completed, the results were compared to several different heuristic algorithms.  When authors were satisfied that the results were accurate and not significantly different from other examined algorithms, the final step was to develop a working pedagogy to efficiently describe the process.  This allows the user an efficient analytical tool to illustrate and explain interactions within a given process.  A local manufacturing facility used this method as a part of a monthly effort to increase line efficiency for individual workstations. The project’s results were satisfactorily tested in a production operations class.  The major advantage to the practitioner, engineer, instructor, and student is that EXCEL is readily available on all personal computers, easily understood, and is very practical. Students with very little exposure to line balancing were able to master the method within the first hour of exposure.

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How to Cite
Lovejoy-Henkel, T., Lee, J., Parsons, D., & Yearout, R. D. (2016). Systematic Pedagogy to Line Balancing with EXCEL. Industrial and Systems Engineering Review, 4(1), 1-11.
Author Biography

Robert DeWitt Yearout, University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)

Professor Industrial Engineering Management

LTC Speciial Forces US Army (Retired)

Robert Yearout, Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management, has published a significant number of articles in national and international industrial engineering and occupational safety journals and proceedings.


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Lovejoy-Henkel, T.J., Lee, J., Parsons, D., and Yearout, R. (2014). Systematic Pedagogy to Line Balancing with EXCEL. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual World Conference of the Society for Industrial and Systems Engineering. San Antonio Texas, TX.

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