For this case analysis, a group of ten workers are responsible for assembling hotplates for hospital and medical laboratory use. There are many different models of hotplates being manufactured. After management discussed some problems in the factory, they decided to try something new.
A group of ten workers were responsible for assembling hotplates (instruments for heating solutions to a given temperature) for hospital and medical laboratory use. A number of different models of hotplates were being manufactured. Some hotplates had a vibrating device, so that the solution could be mixed while being heated. Other hotplates heated only test tubes, while some hotplates could heat solutions in a variety of different containers.
With the appropriate small tools, each worker assembled part of a hotplate. The partially completed hotplate was placed on a moving belt and carried from one assembly station to the next. When the hotplate was completed, an inspector would check it over to ensure that it was working properly. Then, the last worker would place it in a specially prepared cardboard box for shipping.
The assembly line had been carefully balanced by industrial engineers, who had used a time and motion study to break the job down into subassembly tasks, each task requiring about three minutes to accomplish. The amount of time calculated for each subassembly had also been “balanced,” so that the task performed by each worker was supposed to take almost exactly the same amount of time. The workers were paid a straight hourly rate.
However, there were some problems. Morale seemed to be low, and the inspector was finding a relatively high percentage of badly assembled hotplates. Controllable rejects, those “caused” by the operator rather than by faulty materials, were running about 23%.
After discussing the situation, management decided to try something new. The workers were brought together and asked if they would like to build the hotplates individually. The workers decided they would like to try this approach, provided they could go back to the old program, if the new one did not work well. After several days of training, each worker began to assemble the entire hotplate.
The change was made at about the middle of the year and productivity climbed quickly. By the end of the year, it had leveled off at about 84% higher than during the first half of the year, although no other changes had been made in the department or its personnel. Controllable rejects had dropped from about 23% to only 1% during the same period. Absenteeism dropped from 8% to less than 1%. The workers had responded positively to the change, and their morale was noticeably higher. One person declared, “Now, this is my hotplate.” Eventually, the reject rate dropped so low that all routine final inspections were done by the assembly workers, and the full-time inspector was transferred to another job in the organization.
Through a case analysis, evaluate the organization’s approach to this problem and develop recommendation(s) for increasing productivity. In your analysis, include the following:
- At least two possible reasons for the reduction in absenteeism.
- At least two possible reasons for the increase in productivity.
- Support your reasons or conclusions with real-world examples from the business workplace.
A case study is a short description of a real business situation. Analyzing case studies gives you the opportunity to apply those concepts to real business problems. Cases are generally written for several types of analysis. Usually, there is not a “right or wrong” answer. Rather, cases provide a vehicle for you to demonstrate your understanding and ability to apply course concepts. You must use appropriate sources (properly cited) to support your position. Check your analysis by assessing how well it demonstrates your subject knowledge. If your answer relies on your impressions of the topic prior to taking this course, it is likely that the analysis is not your best effort. Simply answering the questions which are part of the case is not enough; consider the questions to be clues to the important concepts and facts. You are strongly encouraged to use the following outline, so that your analysis is organized appropriately:
- Identify both the key issues and the underlying issues. In identifying the issues, you should be able to connect them to the business principles which apply to this situation.
- Discuss the facts which affect these issues. The case may have too much information. In your discussion, you should filter the information and discuss those facts which are pertinent to the issues identified above.
- Discuss your tentative solution to the problem and how you would implement your solution. What actions would you propose to correct the situation, based on the knowledge you have gained in this course? Be sure to support your recommendation by citing references in the text and in the supplementary readings. You should also draw on other references such as business periodicals and relevant journals. Remember that an ANALYSIS is more than simply a SUMMARY of the Case Study.
- Discuss follow-up and contingency plans. How will the organization know that your proposed solution is working? What should they do if it does not work?
It may be helpful for you to “role-play” this assignment. Your presentation should cover the points listed above. By “role-playing” the situation, using the questions at the end of the case as hints, and by using this guide, you should be able to develop an action-oriented analysis with a recommended course of action.
Your case analysis should be 2-3 pages in length, not including the title and reference pages. Include at least two articles/materials (not including your course textbook) to support your analysis. All citations should be in APA format. Double space your paper, use Times New Roman, 12-point font, with one inch margins. Be concise and present your materials in a clear manner. Include any calculations, spreadsheets, etc. that help to support your analysis of the case.