Worker Performance Modeling in Manufacturing Systems Simulation:
Proposal for an Agent-Based Approach
University of Nottingham, UK
Discrete event simulation is generally recognized as a valuable aid to the strategic and tactical decision making
that is required in the evaluation stage of the manufacturing systems design and redesign processes. It is common
practice to represent workers within these simulation models as simple resources, often using deterministic
performance values derived from time studies. This form of representing the factory worker ignores the
potentially large effect that human performance variation can have on system performance and it particularly
affects the predictive capability of simulation models with a high proportion of manual tasks. The intentions of
the chapter are twofold: firstly, to raise awareness of the importance of considering human performance variation
in such simulation models and secondly, to present some conceptual ideas for developing a worker agent for
representing worker performance in manufacturing systems simulation models.
Manufacturing systems are most often highly complex constructs and their behavior is of a dynamic and
stochastic nature. They consist of extensive interactions between people, information, materials and machines.
Systems like assembly lines may look quite simple because their tasks are mainly done in a sequential order. In
reality, these systems are quite complex constructs due to natural variation in processing times which makes