Alternate Crewing Schedules

Alternate Crewing Schedules

Most traditional manufacturing companies still think in terms of the “standard work-week”:  Eight hours a days, Five days per week, Monday through Friday.

The purpose of this brief article is to illustrate some of the advantages of “creative” crewing schedules.

Five, Six, and Seven Day Week with both eight and ten Hour Shifts will be discussed.  The benefits of alternate crewing schedules, addressed here, are further enhanced by transitioning to multiple shifts .

Standard 5 day week, 8 hrs per day

             Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun  TOTAL
Operator #1  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #2  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #3  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA   Note: 7 people/shift,
Operator #4  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA   7 pieces of equipment
Operator #5  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #6  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #7  X    X    X    X    X    NA   NA
CREW SIZE    7    7    7    7    7    0    0
Prod'n Hrs   56   56   56   56   56   0    0    280 Prod'n Hours

In the above traditional crewing pattern, every machine is manned, and the product can be worked upon 40 hours/week.

A) Example:  Five Days Coverage, Each Employee Working 4 Days/Week, 10 Hr Days

             Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun   TOTAL
Operator #1  Off  X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #2  X    Off  X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #3  X    X    Off  X    X    NA   NA    Note: 5-6 people/shift,
Operator #4  X    X    X    Off  X    NA   NA    7 pieces of equipment
Operator #5  X    X    X    X    Off  NA   NA
Operator #6  Off  X    X    X    X    NA   NA
Operator #7  X    Off  X    X    X    NA   NA
CREW SIZE    5    5    6    6    6    0    0
Prod'n Hrs   50   50   60   60   60   0    0    280   Prod'n Hours

What’s the advantage?  The product can now be worked upon 50 hours/week.  This allows for a shortened lead time.  And, while the total employee-hours are the same, there is 15%-20% more equipment availability.  It is also typically easier to recruit good people (folks seem to prefer a 4 day week).
Simply add people to add capacity (the equipment and space are available)

B) Example:  Six Days Coverage, Each Employee Working 4 Days/Week, 10 Hr Days

             Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun  TOTAL
Operator #1  Off  Off  X    X    X    X    NA
Operator #2  X    Off  Off  X    X    X    NA
Operator #3  X    X    Off  Off  X    X    NA   Note: 4-5 people/shift,
Operator #4  X    X    X    Off  Off  X    NA   7 pieces of equipment
Operator #5  X    X    X    X    Off  Off  NA
Operator #6  Off  X    X    X    X    Off  NA
Operator #7  X    Off  Off  X    X    X    NA
CREW SIZE    5    4    4    5    5    5    0
Prod'n Hrs   50   40   40   50   50   50   0    280 Prod'n Hours

What’s the advantage?  The product can now be worked upon 60 hours/week.  Easier recruiting (people like a 4 day week).  30% more equipment availability!
Shorter Lead Times.  Add people to add capacity (the equipment and space are available)

C) Example:  Seven Days Coverage, Each Employee Working 4 Days/Week, 10 Hr Days

             Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun   TOTAL
Operator #1  Off  Off  Off  X    X    X    X
Operator #2  X    Off  Off  Off  X    X    X
Operator #3  X    X    Off  Off  Off  X    X     Note: 4 people/shift,
Operator #4  X    X    X    Off  Off  Off  X     7 pieces of equipment
Operator #5  X    X    X    X    Off  Off  Off
Operator #6  Off  X    X    X    X    Off  Off
Operator #7  Off  Off  X    X    X    X    Off
CREW SIZE    4    4    4    4    4    4    4
Prod'n Hrs   40   40   40   40   40   40   40    280 Prod'n Hours

What’s the advantage?  43% more equipment availability!  People still get 3 days off/week.
Shorter Lead Times.  Add people to add capacity (the equipment and space are available)

What about the three shift operations that are already 24 x 5?

Some processes are more efficient with continuous operation, i.e. no breaks between shifts.   In these situations, it may make more sense to stay with three 8-hour shifts, but go to a six day week, with staggered days off.

Original condition:

Traditional Monday through Friday work schedule crewing.

The new manning uses a six (6) day week, with staggered days off,   i.e. Instead of 6 operators working 5 days/week, we now have 5 operators working 6 days/week.   The capacity per week is the same, but now we have daily recovery capability.

Spreading the work over more days allows for additional equipment availability.

Here is the crew schedule for Tuesday.

staggered days off with traditional 8 hr work day.

The pattern is continued for the remainder of the week, each day a different operator has his/her day off.
What’s the advantage?   17% more equipment capacity daily.   Shorter lead times.   Add people to add capacity (the equipment and space are available)
This pattern provides many of the same advantages stated above, but allows for continuous operation (hand-offs between shifts).

Needless to say, this same arrangement could be done utilizing all seven days per week if desired.

Some things to consider.
Note that none of the above examples increase capacity.   Each alternative provides the same total number of working hours.

However, by staggering the days off, we provide the equivalent of additional equipment, and can shorten our lead times.   We may even be able to leave some equipment set up for high-running products and completely eliminate the change-over costs!

These alternate crewing schedules also make adding capacity much easier.   Just add people.  The equipment and a trained workforce is already on board.

On the four day work schedule, adding capacity via overtime is also generally more acceptable: work 8-10 hrs O.T. and still get a 2 day weekend!   We recommend that you do NOT promise a Mon-Fri work week.   Leave yourself the ability to go to a 6 or 7 day coverage week.

Days off can be adjusted in order to meet weekly swings up and down if needed (e.g. everyone works on Monday’s because it is a high ship day.)   Overtime is based on anything in excess of 40 hours per week.
The same total number of holiday HOURS are provided for the year.  The number of days will be less in the 4 x 10 schedule.
Schedules above can rotate the day off so that every X weeks each operator has off one Monday, Tuesday, etc. if desired.

In almost every case, these same alternatives can, and should, be used on a second shift to further reduce lead times and increase the amount of available equipment.

Working an “Eight Day Week” (four on, four off)

Some companies find it more beneficial to consistently keep the same crews together.   In this case, instead of alternating individual’s days off, you may opt to use a “Two Crew, Eight Day Week” arrangement shown below.

Note that in this arrangement, the days off for each crew changes every week.   In the week shown below, Crew A works Monday – Thursday.   The next week, Crew B will work Monday (finishing their 4 days in a row schedule) and Crew A will work Tuesday – Friday, etc.   A typical schedule is shown below with three different work hours per day:   10 hrs/shift, 11 hrs/shift, and 12 hrs/shift.

Eight day week.    Four days on, four days off crewing.

A few examples are illustrated above.   Each has advantages and disadvantages.

On the 10 hours/day schedule, the standard average workweek equates to only 35 hours/week:  1820 hours year vs. a standard 40 hour/week average of 2080 hours/year.   This, of course, can be compensated for through the use of overtime, if needed/desired.   One advantage of the two crews working 10 hours / day is that even when running two shifts (a “four crew” schedule), it still provides four hours of recovery time each day, to assure that the daily schedule is accomplished.

Unless some special arrangements are made with your state regulatory body, both the 11 hours/day and the 12 hours/day schedules will result in the paying of some overtime premium every week (one crew is always working over the standard 40 hours/week.)

The 12 hours/shift has been used effectively in continuous process industries where each process must be manned 24 hours/day.   An equivalent pattern is worked on the 2nd shift to provide 24 x 7 coverage.

  • Four Crews, 12 hour shifts, 24 x 7 Coverage:   We worked with a plastic bag manufacturer that ran the plant around the clock, seven days/week. They had excellent success using four crews, each working 12 hour days:   Three on, four off;   Then four on, three off.
    Crews A & B would work four days this week (1st and 2nd shifts) while crews C & D worked a three day week (also 1st and 2nd shifts).   The following week, Crews A & B worked three days while crews C & D worked four days.
    Needless to say, the effectiveness of any 12 hour shift pattern depends on the working conditions (e.g. air conditioned?) and how strenuous the tasks are.   We asked the crews, that had been working this pattern for several years.   “We love it” they generally agreed.   The feeling was that the long work day was more than compensated for, by averaging 3.5 days off every week!

    Think creatively!

    Many of our clients have utilized non-traditional crewing schedules, and gained a significant competitive advantage as a result.

    If you’d like to discuss the applicability in your specific situation, drop us a line, or give us a call.

    Jack B. Harrison
    Senior Partner
    The Hands-On Group
    info@handsongroup.com
    407-299-5245
    www.handsongroup.com

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