Expanding Operations With a Scarce Labor Pool and an Unpredictable Workload

As demand picked up for their products, the machine parts shop wanted to expand its operation to keep up with the orders. And immediately many questions emerged. What to plan for when demand is not only growing but fluctuating? How to match the workforce to the increased workload when it takes 3 years to train them? How to … Continue reading “Expanding Operations With a Scarce Labor Pool and an Unpredictable Workload”

Management By Walking Around

Plant managers and Human Resource managers, if you want to make your job a bit easier, take a walk. Every site I go to the number one issue is “How can we get the people we need to produce at the level we need to produce?” A facility struggles to find and keep qualified people and then … Continue reading “Management By Walking Around”

Best Practices

I am often asked about Best Practices in a shiftwork operation.  In this post, I’ve listed 50 of those practices.  I want to stress that every environment is unique.  Best Practices are not.  What works best at one site may not be applicable to another. Avoid rotating shifts. Don’t start earlier than 6:00 am. Pay 10% … Continue reading “Best Practices”

Use Your Data — Know Your Business

Over the last 30 years, I have evaluated the operations of hundreds of manufacturing, processing, mining, and service organizations. Three things I have learned from that work: Companies know their business, but their knowledge is incomplete. They shoot targets, monitor KPIs, and compare their performance to their plans and budgets. But they don’t have time … Continue reading “Use Your Data — Know Your Business”

The FDA and Sanitation

Everyone in the food industry is rapidly becoming aware of the new sheriff in town. The FDA has vastly more authority than it did only a few months ago and it’s having an impact on how companies are looking at their sanitation scheduling and standards. (see the Food Safety Modernization Act). I have worked at … Continue reading “The FDA and Sanitation”

Shift Schedules for the Food Manufacturing Industry – how to eliminate overcapacity

Shift work – The more you learn about it, the more you find out how much you didn’t know. I have friends that know very little about what I do for a living.  When I say “I evaluate, design and implement shift schedules,” they will respond with “Aren’t all shift schedules basically the same?” I … Continue reading “Shift Schedules for the Food Manufacturing Industry – how to eliminate overcapacity”

Why should you consider changing your shift schedule?

Changing shift schedules is not like changing the curtains in your kitchen. It’s complicated.  It disrupts your workforce.  It takes a great deal of effort in an area that you likely have very little experience AND if you make a mistake, you must be prepared to live with it for a very long time. So, … Continue reading “Why should you consider changing your shift schedule?”

5 Signs that you may need a new shift schedule

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 … Continue reading “5 Signs that you may need a new shift schedule”

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is one of those rare production crazes that actually works. People that have never heard of it might immediately think it implies reducing the size of the workforce. This is simply not the case. Lean manufacturing means to produce with the goal of zero waste. So the question is, “What is waste?” Waste is finished … Continue reading “Lean Manufacturing”