Assembly lines are production flow systems wherein activities are organised around a line consisting of various workstations through which the product flows. At each station, the product is assembled through a subset of operations. The assembly line balancing problem (ALBP) consists of allocating operations between stations to maximise the system efficiency. In this study, a variable-depth local search algorithm is proposed for solving simple assembly line balancing problems (SALBPs), which are the most widely studied versions of the ALBP. Although the state-of-the-art techniques for solving the SALBP consist of exact enumeration-based methods or heuristics, this paper proposes a local search-based heuristic using variable-length sequences that allow the solution space to be efficiently explored. The proposed algorithm improves the best solution known for multiple instances reported in the literature, indicating that its efficiency is comparable to those of the state-of-the-art method for solving the SALBP. Moreover, the characteristics of the instances for which the proposed procedure provides a better solution than previously reported construction procedures are investigated.