Best Practices in Shift Work Operations (Part 2 of 10)

Operators and Sanitors should be the same people.  The sanitation process associate with all food manufacturing processes is often a time-thief.  It takes away from valuable production time. Many such operations will have a separate sanitation crew that specializes in sanitation but is not skilled or staffed to run the lines.  This has two negative impacts.  First, the sanitation crew needs a regular schedule, and this is often accommodated by shutting down for an entire shift to let them come in and do their job.  In such cases, it is possible to complete the sanitation process in a partial shift but is metered across an entire shift by using fewer sanitors.  The result is that they may be sanitizing about only 16 hours of runtime when they could run 24 or 40 hours or more without needing to sanitize.  The second negative impact is that if sanitation finishes early, there are no operators present to run the equipment; lines sit idle until the next shift starts.  If operators are sanitors, you can run for as long as you want as there is no longer a designated sanitation shift.  Also, when sanitation is needed, you can perform using an entire production crew and then start right back up immediately.

Do not overstaff.  From a labor cost perspective, there is only one number that matters – Adverse Cost. This is the additional cost you pay for not being perfectly staffed.  If you are perfectly staffed, this cost is zero.  If you are understaffed and have to pay overtime, the Adverse Cost is the difference between your lowest cost option (paid when perfectly staffed) and the cost of overtime.  Since overtime is about 5% to 10% more costly than straight time, your adverse cost is at extra 5% to 10% you had to pay because you were understaffed.  If you are overstaffed, the Adverse Cost is 100% of the cost of that labor since the perfect staffing would have been zero as the position need not have been filled at all.  Thus, the cost of overstaffing can be an order of magnitude greater than the cost of understaffing.

Listen carefully for the term “unfair”.  This word has a far different connotation than say, “I am unhappy.”  When an employee says, “unfair” they are starting to take a particular circumstance and making it personal.  People will complain if they are unhappy.  They will quit if they feel they are being treated unfairly.

Perception matters more than reality.  People respond to conditions as they believe them to exist.  Whether they exist or not is unimportant.  Pay is a good example of this.  If employees are the best paid in the area and have the best compensation package around, they will still perform as if they are underpaid if they believe they are underpaid.  In other words, they will underperform because of perception.  The cure for this is open communications. 

20% of your workforce will work all the overtime you can give them.  This is an extremely useful fact.  So many companies struggle with overtime; generally having to pass out more than the workforce is willing to take on.  However, if you have a fixed amount of overtime and can funnel it to people that want it, you will end up forcing less on those that don’t.  It’s often a tendency to think that complaints about too much overtime means that everyone is complaining.  Knowing this is not the case will allow you to temper your response by taking action to lower overall overtime without eliminating it. High overtime employees have a symbiotic relationship with a company.  The company provides the overtime hours and the employee gladly provides the needed coverage.  It will serve you well to keep these high overtime employees satisfied so they are there when you need them.

This is continued from Part 1 of Best Practices.

Call Us and find out how we can help you optimize your shift work architecture.

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.

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.