Volvo Case Study

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(Page 13 & 14) Case study: Job Enrichment at Volvo

1. Itemise the differences in the hygiene factors when the Kalmar plant is compared with the Torslanda plant.

Answer: The working condition at Torslanda plant was extremely noisy, making conversation at a normal level impossible whereas the Kalmar plant has special insulation installed which is used to keep noise down. This is particularly important as this was problem at the Torslanda plant so the company decided to install special insulation at the new production facility at Kalmar. This is very important as important decisions between workers and supervisors can be heard and made. The deployment of dust extractor fans which removes dust from the plant were also installed at the new production facility at Kalmar whereas the Torslanda plant had dust in abundance which effected workers as dust can cause health problems.

The Torslanda plant was based in traditionally assembly line principles: the moving assembly line which was 1 mile long, transported cars under assembly through a series of work stations where assembly line work is carried out short and sharply. The work cycles varied between 30 & 60 seconds, and often involved difficult work postures, e.g. leaning into the car and moving at the same time as completing the work task. Whereas the new Kalmar plant had 240 individual carriers, these carriers are electronically powered through magnetic tracks. They function as a transport device; each carrier transports a car in various stages of completion to a work area. The rate at which carriers arrive at and pass through the work area is controlled by the workers whereas at the Torslanda plant it wasn’t. The carriers are designed so that it can be easily tilted by 90 degrees, and the car on the carrier can be also moved in a vertical direction. Both these features can be used to provide more comfortable working positions whereas at the Torslanda plant it involved difficult work postures.

The supervision of work in the Torslanda plant were, for example, the pace of work was determined by speed of the line, jobs were allocated by supervisors and permission to go absent from the line always had to be permitted by supervisors. Decision making on the job was at minimum. Whereas at the new production facility at Kalmar the supervision of work is totally different to the Torslanda plant. The work team function as autonomous work groups. They contract with their management for the amount of work they will complete, are free to pace the work as they like, and they decide how the work will be allocated between them. They generally operate in groups of two, following a car from station to station and carrying out the work function allocated to their team. Each work team will have groups of 8 to 10 groups doing the functional tasks the group is responsible for. The spirits between the workers are strong. In most work areas, some of the work will be viewed as bad e.g. heavy work or monotonous pre-assembly operations. Most teams rotate these jobs to make their allocation as fair as possible. The work cycle ranges from 16 to 40 minutes depending on the teams function whereas at the previous plant work cycles varied between 30 & 60 seconds, and often involved difficult work postures.

Company policy and administration at the new production facility at Kalmar has changed as the company decided to implement a number of changes in the form of employee communication and information. For example, all employees’ receive information on the budget, large plant assemblies are held twice a year and the team representative receive a presentation on the final budget when it finalised for the year ahead & they can pass on this information to other workers. They also receive different types of information from the production team, e.g. on hours worked and spoilage. All these types of information weren’t available at the Torslanda plant as staff input relating to decisions within the...
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