Shift schedules rarely fail overnight. Typically, there are plenty of warning signs; signs that tell you to take action before it’s too late. Here are the 5 biggest warning signs.
#1: You have idle equipment while still not producing enough to meet customer demands. There can be a lot of reasons for this; nearly all of which point to a schedule that does not have the right people in the right place at the right time. Product flow, staffing, maintenance and production order variability can all be addressed with the right shiftwork structure.
#2: Maintenance is blaming equipment availability for a downward trend in equipment up-time. You can’t fix something while it’s running. The result is often a solution like “We’ll wait until the weekend to fix it.” This is fine until you find that leaving too much to the weekend ends up with an overly fatigued maintenance group with not enough hours on the weekend to fix everything. Scheduling equipment, like scheduling people, can improve maintenance accomplishment while still getting the production hours you need.
#3: Absenteeism is going up as overtime starts to wear down your workforce. As overtime goes up, two things will happen. First of all, your workforce will start to get tired. Secondly, they will notice that they are now making a lot of money and can afford to take time off. This is a “death spiral” situation in that it is self-perpetuating and will only get worse. Staffing will impact overtime but to do so effectively, you must have a shiftwork structure to support the newly resized workforce.
#4: Local competition for labor is causing problems with recruitment and retention. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like “Amazon just opened a mega-facility down the street and is hiring all of our employees away from us.” The right schedule, one that is a good fit for your workforce as well as your business can help with this. If wages are a concern, look for ways to get overtime to that 20% of your workforce that wants all they can get. Overtime costs your company about the same as fully loaded straight time. This means when you pay overtime, your employees make 50% more but your cost per hour is virtually unaffected. Don’t lose your workforce because of wage pressures or quality of life issues. The right shiftwork structure can help.
#5: Productivity metrics are dropping as equipment runtime-hours are on the rise. If you are running more and more hours with the same old schedule, then you are probably seeing an increase in overtime. While overtime is not a bad idea in many instances, it can eventually lead to worker fatigue. This is especially true if you spread it evenly across all shifts. Remember, not all employees want the same amount of overtime. As fatigue goes up, so will accidents, quality issues, and absenteeism. You make find, for example, that running 6 days a week yields more output than running 5 days. However, if you didn’t change schedules, a 20% increase in runtime will yield significantly less than a 20% increase in output.
In summary, don’t underestimate the impact of having the right shiftwork structure. Fixing this issue is often the most expeditious and cost-effective way of improving your overall operations.
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