Ramping down production in an uncertain economic environment

Staffing done right in a shiftwork operation

The Institute for Supply Management’s New Orders Index reported nine industries where new orders declined in March [1]. If your company is among those who experienced a demand drop due to the COVID-19 disruption and therefore, you want to swiftly ramp down your production ― you are going to need a plan of action.

We are not talking about a traditional downswing.  Those happen all the time due to factors like seasonality, changes in consumer behaviors, or obsolescence.  What we are going to cover here is how to ramp down quickly due to a sudden, and unexpected change in demand.  To further complicate this scenario, we will couple it with a foreknowledge that at some unknown point in the future, you will need to ramp back up again; possibly very quickly.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution here.  However, there are several considerations, some of which may apply to you while others are out of the question for your operation.  In all cases, we recommend that you prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Act as if the slowdown will last for a very long time but be ready to ramp up if things turn around quickly.

Workforce Considerations

While every employee is important to your operation, some are more costly to replace than others.  If you have to let people go, make sure you have a priority list of those high-skilled employees you don’t want to lose.  Keeping those skilled people will help you ramp back up quickly when the time comes.  If a skilled position is eliminated as you cut back, lose the job but keep the person.  Find another place for that person to work.  A high-paid operator can move down to a lower-paid position such as a stacker, for the short run.  Make sure you communicate that such a demotion is “just until things return to normal” and that a cut in pay is not involved.  An operator that is moved to the stacker position would still get operator pay – if you want to keep that person.

It may be that you just need to cut back on hours across the board.  Everyone loses some hours.  This shares the pain of cutbacks.  You don’t let some people go so that others will be unaffected.  This can be done in conjunction with efforts to maintain social distancing.  For example, if you are covering 24/7 with 12-hour shifts, you can instead use 11-hour shifts.  This would allow you to cover 22/7 while allowing downtime between shifts to allow for sanitizing while minimizing interaction between employees on different crews. 

Consider reducing your crew size using voluntary/mandatory layoffs of pre-determined lengths.  One group goes on layoff for a certain number of weeks and then they return while another group goes on layoff.  The idea is to keep your employees close to your company so they can all come back when needed.

Non-Human Capital Considerations

“There is never enough time to get things done.”  I think I have heard this at every company I have worked with over the last 30 years.  And its always been true…until now.

Cutting back on production does not mean that everything it takes to produce must come to a stop.

What have you wanted to do but couldn’t because lines were up and running?  Take a look at what you wanted to do in the coming months or even the coming years.  Pull that work forward.  Get your maintenance PM’s up to 100%.  That line you wanted to upgrade in 2021, upgrade it now.  Taking down water, steam, and HVAC systems can easily bring everything to a stop. Now is the time to get that work done.

It may be more costly than originally projected to move a project forward.  However, if you take into consideration that moving a project forward will avoid production interruption in the future, the math may change dramatically in favor of getting it done now.

In summary

When demand returns, market share will go to the one most ready to capture it.  Well maintained production lines with the latest upgrades will put you in the pole position.  A trained workforce, ready to get back to work will put you at the front of the pack.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Don’t see the downturn as “unfortunate.”  See it as an opportunity – because it is.

Shiftwork Solutions experts are available to help you adapt to new production goals and match your workforce to your production need.  We align workforce schedules with your business goals and implement a tailored solution in a guided change process. We emphasize communication in every phase from planning to execution and involve the workforce to arrive at the most optimal result for your situation.  Our proven, data-driven process will enable you to bring about the desired changes to efficiently engage your workforce and “Do it Right” as fast as possible. 

Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 or send us an email to contact@shift-work.com and we’ll call you.

If you are currently ramping up to help fight the Covid-19 virus, make sure you mention that so we can move you to the front of the line.

[1] March 2020 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business® Source  

Ramping up production

Staffing done right in a shiftwork operation

If your company is among those who experienced a demand surge due to recent disruptive changes and therefore, you want to swiftly ramp up your production ― you are going to need a plan of action.

How do you take the first step in the design of matching the workforce to the increased production needs?

Top considerations before executing production expansion

To avoid inefficiencies our first bit of advice is to be thorough before proceeding forward.  It is perhaps more important than any other time to act swiftly, yet doing it wrong the first time and fixing mistakes retrospectively is often time-consuming and costly.

Defining your goal and evaluating your options in advance are the keys to success. Answering the following questions will put you on the right trajectory to achieve the planned outcomes and deliver the wanted changes sooner. It will also clarify the steps to be taken for an apt change in your operational routines. Consider these about demand and output, resources, operations, and financial implications:

  • What is the expected output volume?
  • Is this growth temporary or permanent?
  • When do we need to reach a higher capacity?
  • How do we match our in-kind assets to our human resources to achieve the desired outcome?
  • How many people do we need?
  • How do we schedule the workforce?
  • Can we use temporary labor and overtime in the short run?
  • What schedule will be most beneficial to the workforce?
  • What schedule will be most beneficial to the company?
  • How to take care of the skill distribution?
  • What leadership roles will be affected?
  • Do we need more supervision? What supervisor/worker ratio is ideal for the given workforce pool and goals?
  • Will our maintenance plan need to change?
  • What happens to support services when producing more (QA, Logistics, sanitation, etc.)?
  • How will safety, quality control be impacted?
  • Can we make continuous improvements and reduce waste in our LEAN production environment while in an expansion?
  • How will raw materials and finished goods inventories be impacted?
  • What external factors could limit your options (i.e. supply chain, shipping, receiving)?
  • What about profitability? What happens to our cost structure if we produce more with fixed capital? What will be the financial impact of overtime or straight time work?
  • Can we have a schedule that produces savings or improved cost/margin ratios? What schedule pattern will boost our ROI?

Lessons learned

The above guide will help you address the most important considerations when planning ahead.  However, all of this assumes you have the time and expertise to proceed with an expansion project along a reasonable timeline.  We far too often see that the mandate is “Get it done now no matter what the cost!”  And that is when inefficiencies are created, opportunities missed, an agile response is hindered, costs soar and the production capacities are not utilized to their maximum potential. When the management becomes aware of those occurrences they often acknowledge:  “We didn’t have time to do anything other than throw bodies at the problem.” Familiar?

Going forward

Consider the above questions before executing a growth strategy and if you want to “Do It Right the First Time”. Businesses must continue driving efficiencies, and pay attention to engaging the workforce on every skill level and respond with agility to achieve the wanted outcome.

Shiftwork Solutions experts are available to help you adapt to new production goals and match your workforce to your production need.  We align workforce schedules with your business goals and implement a tailored solution in a guided change process. We emphasize communication in every phase from planning to execution and efficiently engage your workforce to arrive at the most optimal result for your situation.  Our proven, data-driven process will enable you to bring about the desired changes to “Do it Right” as fast as possible. 

Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 or send us an email to contact@shift-work.com.

If you are currently ramping up to help fight the Covid-19 virus, make sure you mention that so we can move you to the front of the line.

Free Video Conference Consultation

During this time of uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 virus, we here at Shiftwork Solutions have asked ourselves, “What can we do to help our shiftwork communities get through this?”

Last week, we shared some “out of the box” type ideas to consider in your battle against Covid-19. We’ve received several positive responses to this post. Additionally, companies contacted us to discuss the steps they are experimenting with to balance demand and resources.

We’d like to keep up our support by popular demand.

We are offering a free video conference call with one of our shiftwork experts. You can drive the agenda and discuss your shift work, operation, and staffing related questions, including:

  • Considering higher overtime to use as few employees as possible?
  • Are you struggling with the “Ramp-Down” or “Ramp-Up?”
  • Are you thinking about shorter work weeks to keep as many employees as you can?

There are any number of issues that we would be happy to discuss with you. This includes your stories of success or of things to avoid.

To set up a Video Conference Call, send us an email at contact@shift-work.com

How to Manage Variable Workloads

How to maintain the right amount of coverage and minimize the costs

by Dan Capshaw & Bruce Oliver- Shiftwork Solutions LLC

Does the demand for your company’s product(s) follow a seasonal pattern or exhibit other periodic variations? As long as the changes in demand are not “permanent,” there is no reason to hire enough employees to cover the peak workload requirements. If you did, you would have to either lay them off when demand dropped, or retain and pay them during periods when they were not needed. Paying for this “idle” time can be very expensive.

Here are four options frequently used to maintain the right amount of coverage and minimize the costs:

  • Planned overtime
  • Temporary employees
  • Discretionary work management
  • Planned time-off management

Planned Overtime

Planned overtime is the most flexible option of the four. It allows you to vary the coverage from a fixed number of employees. Although the overtime is usually paid at a higher rate, it is not an on-going cost. You pay for it only when the extra capacity is needed. Thus the incremental cost of increasing coverage is relatively small.

When you hire more employees, the added cost includes both wages and benefits, and you pay these “loaded” wages even when the workload drops and the people are no longer needed.

This means you can minimize your costs by covering the majority of the workload variations with overtime.

The major drawback comes from higher levels of overtime over an extended time period. When overtime exceeds 20% of the total hours for a sustained period, it can have adverse effects on morale, safety, and productivity.

Temporary Employees

Fortunately, overtime is not the only mechanism that we can use to match the coverage to varying production demands. Another alternative is to use temporary and contract labor to cover 10% or more of the labor required to run a typical manufacturing organization. While the problems associated with using temporary labor are well documented, the ability to economically flex up and down by 10% without affecting the rest of the workforce should not be ignored.

Discretionary Work Management

Another way to address variable workloads is to use discretionary work (such as training) to fill in for the slow periods. Discretionary work needs to be done at some point during the year, but its timing can be matched to the availability of resources to perform that work.

Suppose you have a significant drop in demand around the holiday period in December and January. These months would be an ideal time to build in some extra training. In fact, this is an ideal time to hold training that is best done when the entire crew needs to be together.

Other discretionary work, such as special maintenance or cleaning activities, can also be scheduled for these slow periods. One of the goals of discretionary work during slow periods is to convert potential idle time into productive time. Using “busy work” to fill idle time will not reduce operational coverage costs unless that work must be done to keep the plant operational.

Depending on how much discretionary work exists, it may be worthwhile to increase staffing slightly to allow more unassigned time to perform the discretionary work. The risk of doing this is that when the discretionary work cannot be matched to the built-in idle time, costs rise.

Planned Time-off Management

Employees take planned time-off for vacations and floating holidays. This time-off typically is more than 5% of an employee’s scheduled work hours over the course of a year. During peak production periods, employees taking time off are usually replaced by other employees working overtime. During non-peak periods, there is no need to use overtime to replace these absences, so idle time is reduced.

The objective of managing this planned time-off is to encourage personnel to take their time-off during slow seasons, and not to take it off during periods of peak production. Three ways to do this are:

  1. Restrict the number of people that can be on vacation at any one time. During peak production demand seasons, time-off controls can be tighter than they are during the non-peak seasons. This effectively shifts planned time off to the non-peak seasons.
  2. Schedule plant shutdowns during the slow months and require unnecessary personnel to take a vacation. This uses up vacation, reduces production hours, and allows for maintenance to be performed.
  3. Schedule personnel to take a vacation even if the plant is operating. In other words, if employees have not chosen a vacation time that meets the business needs, schedule it for them (with their input). This allows management to substitute vacation hours for idle hours.

For all three of these methods, the biggest risk lies in the employees believing that their time-off is restricted for arbitrary reasons. Therefore, when one or more of these methods is used, management needs to carefully explain why the needs of the business require time-off to be managed. Equal application of the planned time-off management techniques will reinforce the message that the rules are established to help manage seasonal workload and other business issues.

Managing planned time-off effectively can allow you to increase staffing so that more work is performed on straight time and less on overtime. Like discretionary work management, if planned time-off is not managed effectively, it can exacerbate the variable workload problem.

Summary

To summarize, the best practices for managing variable workloads are to:

  1. Use overtime to cover the majority of workload variability that exists.
  2. Use a 10% buffer of temporary employees to flex your capacity up and down to match the changing workload (but only if the skill requirements allow it).
  3. Minimize actual idle time by planning discretionary work and training to be performed during the slow periods.
  4. Manage planned time-off so that more time is taken during slow seasons than during peak demand seasons.

Call Us and We Can Help

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.

11 steps you can take today to keep your employees safe and your shift work operation going

In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 virus situation, I’m going to make recommendations that would normally seem unusual.  Typically, we plan and create shiftwork structures for long-term success.  We look at costs, employee engagement and a wide range of best shiftwork practices.

Today, I want to focus on short term actions: what can plants do today to keep their doors open and keep their employees safe?

Consider these ideas:

  1. If you are running three 8-hour shifts a day, drop down to two 10-hour shifts.  Use the 4 hours of downtime to clean/sanitize.
  2. Don’t have shifts start/stop right after each other.  For example, if you run two 10-hour shifts, make the four hours of downtime occur as two sets of two hours: two hours between each shift.
  3. Eliminate face-to-face turnovers. Consider digital alternatives; perhaps passed along online.
  4. Ask for cooperation in a time of unusual circumstances.  For example, many parents will now have childcare issues.  Look for volunteers to swap shifts to accommodate those that need different shift times for the time being.  Allow employees to donate PTO to a coworker that really needs it.
  5. Stagger breaks and lunches to minimize too many people being in the break/lunchroom at the same time. 
  6. Ensure adequate self-cleansing equipment is readily available; not just at entry points but at every workstation.
  7. Hold training on “best practices” for staying healthy (cough into elbow etc.)
  8. Encourage people to stay home if they are sick.  Put any attendance “point system” on hold.  See our post on the cost of paid time off.
  9. Incentivize people to take vacation now.  For example, if they take vacation off between now and the end of May, you will allow them to take 50% more days off with pay.  Remember, vacation taken now is vacation that will not be taken when you need people as you ramp back up later.
  10. Take advantage of extra downtime to upgrade/repair equipment.  Get as much done now as you can so that when you ramp back up, you are firing on all cylinders.
  11. Lead by example.  Keep social distances.  Be seen as always following sanitary practices.

The COVID-19 crisis will pass.  When it’s over, you want your workforce to still be with you.  Additionally, taking care of your employees creates goodwill within the community.  The right steps now can help you get through these hard times while emerging as the employer of choice going forward.

Call us today if you’d like to keep your employees safe and your shift work operation going. We can help you tackle short term and long-term challenges.  We can help.  (415) 858-8585.

How to be thorough when assessing the true cost of paid sick leave

The health and well-being of the employees is the companies’ top priority. As news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, giving employees more paid sick time gets in the focus.

Although Congress has just passed (March 18, 2020) a major package including an expansion of paid sick days and emergency paid leave for a subset of workers, the bill is not universally applicable to all sizes of businesses and all employees.[1]  

Knowing the actual cost of paid time off can help companies assess the financial impacts of giving more paid time.  

So, what is the cost of the paid sick days? 

Calculating the cost of additional paid time off is relatively straightforward for companies with both 40 hour or 24/7 schedules.

Let’s start with this: there are 52 weeks in a year.  This represents 2,080 hours of work if your workers are on a 40-hour schedule and 2,184 hours of work if they are on a 24/7 schedule (per person before unscheduled overtime).  For example, increasing paid time off by 3% is equivalent to giving employees an extra 62 to 65 hours of paid time off every year.

However, most employers would continue the calculations as follows: “I just gave one person 64 more paid hours off.  I also now need to pay someone else to cover those 64 hours at an overtime rate. Thus, this cost me 64 pay hours plus 1.5 times 64 pay hours for a total of 160 pay hours!”

What’s amiss with this latter way of thinking? There are three inaccuracies with this calculation: 

  • First of all, the 64 hours that you are paying the person to be absent were going to be paid to him/her if she was at work so this is not an “extra” cost. 
  • Secondly, there is an extra cost to pay someone overtime to cover the newly created opening, however, overtime generally costs about 10% to 15% more than straight time; much less than the assumed 50% additional cost.  The reason for this is that while people get paid at a higher rate when working overtime, they don’t earn extra medical benefits, vacations, holidays, etc.  Those costs are associated with straight time wages, not overtime wages.  The liability for these costs is incurred when companies hire someone, not when someone works overtime.
  • And finally, the statement includes no consideration for what would happen if you didn’t give people paid sick time.  What is the cost of a sick person coming to work?  How many others will become sick? How well does a sick person perform?  How does a person view their company when they have always been there when needed and now that they are sick, they are on their own?  How are you viewed as a prospective employer if you don’t pay for sick days but the plant across the street does? The consequential costs of not providing paid sick leave are harder to measure, yet can be substantial.

There is another consideration with regards to paid sick time: How will it be administered? 

  • People shouldn’t be able to schedule it in advance because then it becomes a vacation instead of sick time. 
  • A use-it-or-lose-it policy encourages people to take all of their sick time every year.  A buy-back policy encourages people to come to work when sick so they can get a check at the end of the year when they sell the time back.
  • Carrying sick time over is probably the best idea, however, some companies don’t like carrying an ever-increasing paid sick time liability on the books, even though there is no additional cost.   There are several ways to make this more acceptable.  For example, let employees carry over as much time as they want, then when they retire, the company can buy back the unused sick time at a reduced rate.  This allows a worker to build up a huge store of sick hours that are available for use if they ever get seriously sick.  When they retire, they may have a year’s worth of sick time that is worth half a year’s wages. 

I’m not advocating for or against increasing paid sick time.  These guiding posts are here to help you make informed decisions ― about a subject that needs careful and accurate considerations.

Call us today to discuss your questions. (415) 858-8585.

[1]: https://www.vox.com/2020/3/18/21185065/congress-coronavirus-tests-paid-sick-days

Seasonal and Unbalanced Scheduling: A Case Study

Operation Managers and Human Resource Managers know that if your workload has seasonality, then you need a plan to deal with it.  Maybe your strategy is to maximize gains or maybe its to minimize lost opportunities.  Whatever your priority is, we can help you develop a staffing and scheduling strategy to achieve it.

The case study below is just one of the dozens of sites that we have worked with to help with their seasonality.  

The situation:

  • A distribution center with 350 employees
  • Last year they ran 38 Saturdays
  • Highly seasonal with 3 months having no weekend work
  • Local unemployment is around 3%
  • The workload is dictated by upstream sources outside of the distribution center’s control
  • The lack of predictability coupled with few days off was resulting in high attrition
  • High turnover and high training requirement resulted in a dramatic drop in productivity causing more overtime

What we did:

  • Evaluated the “shape” of the workload; identifying where in time the work took place.
  • Evaluated the cost of labor: straight time, overtime, temporary workers and part-time workers
  • Involved the workforce through a series of surveys
  • Educated the workforce about different schedule solutions to their current situation.

What we found:

  • The workload that fell on Saturdays could be split between Saturdays and Sundays without penalty
  • The workforce consisted of:
    1. Those that never wanted to work overtime
    2. Those that loved overtime
    3. Those that wanted a 12-hour schedule for more days off

What we implemented:

  • 30% of the workforce went to a 7-day, 12-hour schedule
  • The 12-hour schedule paid more and had 78 more annual days off
  • The 12-hour schedule workers were guaranteed that their schedule weekends off would be off
  • 70% of the workforce stayed on a 5-day schedule.
  • The combination of schedules coupled with the staffing levels left enough weekend overtime for those that still wanted it while dramatically lowering overtime that was assigned to those that didn’t want it.

In the end, the people that wanted more predictability got it.  Those that wanted more days off, got it.  Those that wanted their weekends off, got it.  Those that wanted a lot of overtime, got it.

Call Us and We Can Help you develop a staffing and scheduling strategy to accommodate your seasonality.

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.

Why Your 12-hour Schedule is More Attractive than You Think

If you are a Human Resources Manager, then you are well aware of the difficulty in finding quality employees in today’s tight labor market.  You and everyone else in your local area are competing for an ever-shrinking pool of potential employees.  You have a 12-hour schedule and, at first glance, this seems to be putting off new hires before they even start.

If this is true for you, then you may find yourself asking, “Maybe an 8-hour schedule would be better for attracting employees.  Should I try that?”

The answer to this comes from recognizing your audience and the motives of those you are trying to recruit. You might be on a winning track if your offering, is based on the appreciation for your candidate’s goals and showcases the values and benefits of a 12-hour schedule in comparison to an alternative employer and schedule that your candidate may be considering.  Often you will find that your 12-hour schedules are just not “packaged” right in order to make the point that you are the better offer.

Let’s take an example.

The facility across the street is offering an 8-hour day shift with every weekend off.  They are also advertising “No overtime!”  The final nail in the coffin is that they are offering 10% more per hour than you are.

How can you compete? You could point out:

  • the great healthcare plan you have, but if your potential employees are young enough, they are on their parent’s plan.
  • the great retirement benefits but again, younger employees will see retirement as a very distant issue. They want more immediate compensation.

This may feel hopeless but in reality, you may be holding the winning hand; that is if you can get the right message out. Try this instead:

  • “Our schedule has the same annual pay as the company across the street.” You can say this because a 12-hour schedule averages 44 pay hours a week instead of 40 (like the schedule across the street).  The extra pay hours make up for the lower rate of pay.
  • “We don’t have mandatory overtime, but we do offer overtime to those that want it.”  This will appeal to those that don’t want overtime as well as those that do.  The ability to work a lot of overtime is a big attractor for at least 20% of your potential new employees.  Point out how much more money this is. “This can add as much as $XXXXX on an annual basis.”  Remember, they may have a 10% higher wage across the street but overtime pays 50% more!
  • “Our schedule has 78 more days off than the schedule across the street.”  This is a key benefit of 12-hour shifts.  Yes, the days are longer but 78 more days off is very, very attractive.
  • “We offer a 10% shift differential for those that work on the Night shift.”  If your shift differential is not this high, then consider changing it.  10% is the minimum rate it takes to attract people to non-day shifts.
  • “You can use 24 hours of vacation and get a week off.”  This will depend on the schedule pattern, however, a better vacation using fewer hours is a lesser-known benefit of 12-hour shifts.

Depending on the specific 12-hour schedule that you are using, there can be several other benefits that might help you appeal to potential new employees.

Let us help you design a shift schedule that makes you the employer of choice.  We can transform your work environment.  Our employee engagement process ensures maximum support from your workforce.

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.

 

When should your shifts start?

As a Plant Manager or Human Resources Manager, in a shiftwork operation, you’ve certainly heard “Everyone that I know wants to start the shifts at such-and-such a time.”  You hear this but the question is – What do you do about it?

Should you survey the workforce and let them choose?  Do you have your own idea that possibly is soundly based on a certain business needs?  Can you have multiple shift times?  Can you try one time and then a different time and see which people like best?

This can be a complicated issue.  It can also have a profound impact on how your workforce views their workplace.  If you “impose” a start time then expect to hear a lot of “What we want doesn’t matter.”  If you leave it up to them, then be ready for them to choose something outside of your comfort zone as a manager.

I would like to make two simple points with this blog.  

The first point is, it is always a good idea to look for ways that the workforce can control their work environment.  Letting them choose something as small as a start time for their shift says, “We, as a company, believe that you know best what start time works for you.  You pick it and we’ll support it.”  This is a great message.

The second point is to make sure that you will be okay with what they choose.  This is true with start times or lunch menus or whatever you want them to pick.  

My rule of thumb on start times is that the Day shift shouldn’t start any earlier than 6:00 am.  If you think this is a good idea (read below) then you would make that a condition when you let them pick a start time.

So, what’s wrong with starting before 6:00 am?  Most 8-hour operations have the day shift start between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. The afternoon shift would start 8 hours later; the night shift, 8 hours earlier. For 12-hour shifts, employee preferences for start times tend to be about 30 minutes earlier than their preferences for 8-hour shifts. So, if you are on an 8-hour schedule that has a day shift that starts at 6:30 am, expect the workforce to want a 6:00 am start time for 12-hour shifts.

Our research has shown that employees starting at 6:00 am get about 20 minutes less sleep per night than those starting at 7:00 am. Before you run out and change your schedule, consider the following: (1) shift workers are typically locked into whatever start time you currently have. They will resist change. (2) The later the day shift starts, the later the night shift gets off. This is the trade-off. Ideally, a night shift would end early enough to allow the night shift to get home before the sun comes out. This means getting off earlier rather than later.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585.

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.