A learning curve-based method to implement multifunctional work teams in the Brazilian footwear sector

Appl Ergon. 2012 May;43(3):541-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


This paper presents a method for implementing multifunctional work teams in a footwear company that followed the Taylor/Ford system for decades. The suggested framework first applies a Learning Curve (LC) modeling to assess whether rotation between tasks of different complexities affects workers' learning rate and performance. Next, the Macroergonomic Work Analysis (MA) method (Guimarães, 1999, 2009) introduces multifunctional principles in work teams towards workers' training and resources improvement. When applied to a pilot line consisting of 100 workers, the intervention-reduced work related accidents in 80%, absenteeism in 45.65%, and eliminated work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD), medical consultations, and turnover. Further, the output rate of the multifunctional team increased average 3% compared to the production rate of the regular lines following the Taylor/Ford system (with the same shoe model being manufactured), while the rework and spoilage rates were reduced 85% and 69%, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Humans
  • Industry / organization & administration*
  • Industry / standards
  • Learning Curve*
  • Shoes* / standards
  • Task Performance and Analysis*