ERIM Research Seminar LIS: The Human Factor in Planning and Scheduling



The majority of the research in production control focuses on mathematical models and formal systems and avoids entering the area of human factors. In practice, production planning and scheduling is mainly a manual task, where people take decisions about what needs to be produced when on what resources. Little is known regarding the actual activities that planners and schedulers carry out and how they interact with formal techniques and systems. There are various ways to unravel the human factor in planning and scheduling. This research uses empirical data that is extracted from decision support systems to generate plans. By comparing the plans and focussing on the changes that are made by the planners, several aspects of the planning behaviour are measured. In this specific case study, we are interested in the relationship between the number of actions that planners carry out and the variety of these actions. The literature on production planning tasks suggests that there are routine elements that require relatively little attention, and problem solving activities that require the human to conceptualize and design more complex solutions. Following this line of thought, one would therefore expect to observe relatively low variety of actions if the total number of planning actions is limited (a steady stream of routine actions that are relatively monotonous), and that when the number of actions increases, the variety of these actions also increases. This means that when the planning complexity (indicated by the number of planning actions) is limited, a bottom-up decision strategy is followed, because the actions can be conducted with on a case-by-case basis, they do not completely upset the existing plan and therefore there is no need to zoom out and regard the plan as a whole. The results suggest strong support for the hypothesis that when a planner is faced with an increased number of actions, the variety of actions increases.


Contact information:

Prof. dr. J.Y.F. Wynstra


Tel. +31 (0) 10 408 1990