Sponsored By

Shifting shifts can generate savings

March 4, 2001

3 Min Read
Shifting shifts can generate savings

MONEY983729473.gifIn an increasingly competitive global market, injection molders are always looking for new ways to increase profits. Some companies hire additional employees, while others buy new equipment or increase sales. However, an alternate strategy exists that could improve profit margins without hefty investment: Implement new employee scheduling methods.

   The Coleman Consulting Group (CCG) has a 15-year history of assisting companies in evaluating their workload, business goals, and scheduling practices. The company has found that in a typical molding facility, a new schedule can save $2 million to $5 million per year. Large facilities may find $10 million in annual savings. CCG credits the savings to capital deferment and ensuring that the work, pay, and coverage policies are correct.

   “Most [injection molding] companies come to us and want to grow from a traditional five-day workweek to a seven-day schedule,” says Dennis Murphy, senior vp at CCG. “A big mistake companies make is assuming there’s a set shift length or set number of days off and on,” he says. “There’s a wide variety of schedules to choose from and a menu of options can be created. It depends on the fluctuation of the workload and design system peaks.”

   For those interested in venturing beyond traditional schedules, CCG has outlined its strategies in a new brochure. Not every strategy is necessary, but the key is to remember that the best schedules meet management and employee needs.

Consolidate to full advantage. Take into consideration the concept of time when undergoing consolidation. Rather than run several facilities Monday through Friday, 45 hours per week, it is more cost efficient to condense operations into a single plant operating more hours per week.

Match workforce to workload. Schedules should be based on the most efficient deployment of capital or the hours your customers prefer service. Have the right skills at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.

Cut idle labor. Idle labor is overmatching the workload, using full-time workers when part-time employees or split shift schedules should be used. Idle time can be a company’s biggest unnecessary cost, according to CCG.

Attract top-rate employees with accommodating schedules. Nontraditional schedules can be a good recruiting tool in a tight labor market. Workers are attracted to schedules that fit their personal situation.

Obtain employee buy-in. Employees need to understand the business reasons behind a particular schedule change—to improve delivery, to be more competitive, to reduce costs, and so forth. Employees are more willing to go along with change when they are well informed. Allow employees to choose among models that present management’s cost saving needs with anticipated employee needs. Employees can help adjust the models to create optimal schedules.

Improve communication at all levels. Most employees are skeptical when first approached with the idea of changing shift lengths. Murphy says typical questions include, “Are you going to take away my overtime?” or “I hear you’re forcing down 12-hour shifts,” when they’re used to 8-hour shifts. Build team rapport and morale by listening to workers’ concerns and then state your company’s needs. Assure employees that they will be able to select from options that meet their needs.

Work from the bottom up. Rather than just issuing a report to top-level management, CCG meets with hourly employees as well as management on three or four occasions, in group sessions, to ensure effective communication at all levels. Most schedule implementations for an average-sized injection molding business take approximately 10 to 20 weeks.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like