Is Your Shift Schedule Lean?

There are many aspects to the concept of Lean Manufacturing and Lean Thinking.  One of the fundamental goals of applying lean concepts is to eliminate waste in the process. 

What can we do to minimize waste in shift schedules?  In no specific order, here are some places to look:

  1. Match the coverage to the workload
    • A headcount mismatch creates idle time, overtime, and lost capacity (if you are unable to run)
    • Avoid over-staffing to cover absences.
       
  2. Create time for preventative maintenance
    • Make your product right the first time – avoid defects and extra processing resulting from machines that are out of adjustment.
    • Avoid waiting due to breakdowns.
    • Reduce operating costs due to improved equipment efficiency.
  3.  Allow shift workers to get rest (days off, hours/day)
    • Reduce defects due to human error.
    • Feel better, better performance, clearer thinking, and more interest in engagement.
    • Less pacing due to fatigue.
       
  4. Smooth production and create flow using a continuous schedule (24×7)
    • Reduce finished goods and work-in-process inventory.
    • Match production to demand.
    • Find defects when they occur and correct the cause immediately.
    • Maximize asset utilization.
    • One potential risk is the increase in overhead staff because of an increase in the number of supervisors and indirect support personnel.
       
  5. Operate through breaks and lunches
    • Avoid line instability that results in defects and line startup/shutdown costs.
    • Maximize capacity and asset utilization.
       
  6. Insufficient cross-training
    • Waiting to get the right person for the job
    • Not utilizing the potential for on-shift personnel to fill more roles

I’m sure you can come up with more opportunities to add to my list.   

Improving your schedule by addressing sources of waste requires making changes.  Changing schedules is not easy, but it can be done.  Our change process engages the workforce in the schedule evaluation and incorporates their feedback into the best solutions that result in a leaner, more efficient, and productive operation.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585  to discuss your operations and how we can help you make your schedule leaner, more efficient and more productive. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.

Overtime: A Grab-Bag of Information

If you manage a shiftwork operation or if you are a Human Resource manager in a shiftwork operation or if you are a shift worker then – Overtime is a big deal.

Based on my 30 years of experience working with shift workers and shiftwork operations, I consider myself to be an overtime expert.  I have worked with companies around the world for more than 25 years helping them address staffing and scheduling issues, most of which have some level of overtime as a component of the overall situation.

  I thought I would try to put all of these issues into a single blog along with my own perspective.  Wish me luck…

  1. An hour of straight time (fully loaded) costs a company about the same as an hour of overtime paid at the rate of time and one-half.
  2. About 20% of people love overtime.  About 20% of people hate overtime.  About 60% of people will work their “fair share”.
  3. When it comes to overtime, the “marginal propensity to save” is always less than one (1).  What this means is that people don’t save 100% of their overtime income.  This also means that they up their standard of living when they spend overtime income (even if this means they only bought an extra candy bar).
  4. As people adjust their standard of living, they become “addicted” to the overtime.
  5. Consistent high levels of overtime extending beyond 6 months in a row will result in “Golden Handcuffs.”  This is a phenomenon where people will complain about too much overtime ruining their family lives AND complain if overtime hours are cut because they can no longer afford to make a car or house payment.
  6. Overtime at union sites is a particularly tough problem.  Senior employees get the prime overtime during the week and the junior employees end up working the undesirable weekend overtime  The result is a high turnover of new employees who tire from never having a day off.   I typically recommend that senior people get first shot at overtime up to a certain level (56-60 hours in a week) before they go to the bottom of the volunteer list.  I also typically recommend that junior employees are the first to be forced to work overtime up to a certain level (56 -60 hours in a week) before they go to the bottom of the forced list.  This recognizes seniority while keeping people from “voluntarily” working themselves to death while, at the same time, giving the junior people time off to recuperate every week.
  7. If your workload is flat (does not change by the week, or month or season) then a good target for overtime is between 5% and 15%.
  8. If your workload is highly variable, the optimal level of overtime (considering both cost and fatigue) may be much higher than 15%.
  9. Too much overtime is less of a problem than too many days of work in a row.  We short ourselves sleep on days we work.  The more days in a row we work, the farther we fall behind in our sleep.  We need days off to catch up on our sleep.  In other words, it’s better to work four 12-hour shifts in a week than to work six 8-hour shifts.  Both have 48 hours but the 12’s have 3 times as many days off for recovery.
  10. If a machine paces the work, then moderate levels of overtime will not have an impact on productivity.
  11. If people determine the pace of work, more overtime will cause the people to slow down, even if it is unintentional.
  12. Overtime at high levels will cause drops in productivity, safety, quality, and retention.
  13. When assigning overtime, do so as far in advance as possible to minimize the disruption to the plans your workforce may make outside of the work environment.
  14. If your overtime level is zero, you are not “perfectly” staffed.  You are over-staffed.
  15. The accident rate per hour should be expected to go up between the 12th and the 14th hour worked in a day.
  16. Overtime does not make people sleepy.  Lack of sleep makes people sleepy.  Circadian rhythms also play a role in alertness.
  17. Overtime allows a company to compete for labor with other companies that may pay higher hourly rates but offer very low overtime amounts.
  18. When people work outside of their normal schedule, pay them a premium.  They are helping you on time that was originally considered to be their own.
  19. Straight time is typically purchased in 40 hour/week increments when you hire someone.
  20. Overtime hours can be purchased in any quantity you wish.  Even though it costs the same as straight time, you are actually getting a fully qualified person as opposed to hiring and training someone to provide more hours.
  21. All employees want overtime when they want it and they don’t want it when they don’t want it.  Go figure.

I welcome your questions and feedback.  If you disagree with me, first ask yourself, “Is my perspective different from the one Jim was using when he wrote these?”  I say this because I can easily find unique situations where each of the above is not true.
 

Call Us and We Can Help

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss your operations and how we can help turn overtime into an asset that your workforce appreciates. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.

Workforce Scheduling for Food Manufacturing

Managers of Food Manufacturing operations, you have some very unique challenges that are often not a concern in other types of manufacturing operations.  These are typically issues surrounding seasonality, sanitation, and product mix.  At Shiftwork Solutions, we know how to help you design a shiftwork structure that maximizes your production capacity in spite of these complications.

Over the last 30 years, Shiftwork Solutions has worked with dozens of food manufacturing facilities.  One thing that always strikes us is how complicated their production requirements are.

While a typical manufacturing facility will say “Our overtime is too high” or “We need to increase capacity”, a food manufacturer will use these statements as only a beginning.

In this post, I’m going to cover some of the “Low Hanging Fruit”; those things that we go after when optimizing a food manufacturing plant.

Product Demand: Most food manufacturing facilities experience some degree of variability in their demand.  For example, soft drink demand drops off in the winter while potato chip demand goes up as the Super Bowl approaches.  The questions to answer are: (1) How big is the swing? (2) How predictable is the swing? (3) What are your labor options (Full Time v. Temps v. Overtime)? (4) What is the cost of training v. retaining?  Are you willing to lose skills during a slow time?  If not, what is the cost of keeping them around so they are there when you need them? (5) Can shelf life be used in such a way as to allow leveling out of production? (6) If you have multiple plants, can you keep some higher performers at capacity and allow the poorer performers to handle the variability?

Product Mix: If all lines make the same thing all the time, this is not an issue.  However, this is almost never the case. The questions to answer are: (1) Does line X always take the same amount of people to run when it is running?  If not, what is the variability? (2) Can multiple lines produce the same products or is each line the only line that can make certain products? (3) What is the cost of training your workforce to be able to operate multiple lines?

Sanitation: This is something 100% of food manufacturers must deal with.  A typical solution is “We shut down at night or on the weekend to clean”.  This isn’t a bad idea except for 3 things: (1) Every time you shut down, you must startup.  Start-ups are the least productive times for your lines.  (2) Every time you shut down, you must clean.  Cleaning = labor dollars.  Shut down fewer times you will clean fewer times.  (3) While you are cleaning, you are not producing.  Why shut down for 8 hours (and lose 8 hours of productivity) when you really only need 4 hours?  Scheduling sanitation to occur when you need it and only in the quantities you require will increase equipment availability and decrease labor costs.  Cross-training operators to perform sanitation duties can often be the best solution.

Maintenance: When companies contact us, they are usually capacity constrained.  This means maintenance has been pushed to the very edge of the week – Saturdays and Sundays.  This can result in poor accomplishment rates as mechanics rush to fix everything in a very tight window.  Spreading operations across more days will allow maintenance to be spread out as well.  For example, if you go to a 24/7 production schedule, it does not matter when you take a line down, so take it down when you are able to do your best work.

Other areas that need to be considered are R&D, Quality, Supervision, Distribution, and Planning.  Leave out any of these puzzle pieces and you will not get the complete result you are after.

Let us help you develop a better way to schedule your sanitation.  Use our process of analysis and employee engagement to transform your workplace.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss your operations and how we can help you solve your shift work problems. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.