Extra Man? Right or Wrong

In large manufacturing facilities, it’s not hard to find managers who’ll acknowledge, on any given day, there may be extra workers on the floor. Sometimes referred to as redundant manning this sounds like an easy target when looking for labor waste. But is it? Yes and no. Here’s the difference.

Under certain circumstances having an extra body on a line is a good thing. Any machine can get a little quirky and require an extra pair of hands and eyes just to get the product down the line. There are appropriate times and places when extra manning makes sense, so. Any automated labor scheduling solution must enable an override for human judgement. However when this becomes an habitual alternative to your standard manning, something isn’t right.

If say the labor standard for an operation is 10 workers, yet some supervisors are only comfortable with 11, then management has a couple of choices. Pay for the 10% premium above the standard or adjust the standard upward. In other words, if this needs to happen every day or every shift, then change the labor standard to 11.

A solution that allows the scheduler to make special assignments, assignments that typically fall outside of the basic manning for building the schedule for a particular product, will highlight these non-standard assignments. What’s often missing from any manual labor scheduling solution are these kinds of tools that enable management to point out special assignment situations.

Building labor standards that reflect your actual requirements is a key part of your focus on skill management. Most importantly, labor standards must reflect your best tribal knowledge about how the most efficient manning for each and every section on your manufacturing floor. When using an automated scheduling solution, your labor standards are built into the system and are automatically put in place with each schedule. As a result, the kind of habitual overmanning highlighted above can be eliminated.

What happens when a supervisor cherry-picks a specific worker for a given position? This is not just a version of the special assignment problem we’ve been discussing? Training is where we need to look for help here. If there is only one worker capable of manning the position, where’s their backup? What happens when they’re on vacation? This points to the need for training management and training planning being tightly integrated with workforce scheduling and not just for new hires.

One Response to “Extra Man? Right or Wrong”

  1. Jennifer

    Dealing with redundant manning is an issue for all manufactures large and small. Some feel that it is a small slice of the pie but in reality it is huge. Using a automated labor scheduling solution will greatly improve efficiency, dependability, and accountability. It will also make those last minute scheduling changes manageable and more cost efficient. Think about it if you want to make the best product at the most reasonable cost don’t you want to make sure that you have the most productive and skillful employee running it? Yes, of course you do. Redundant manning is like a puzzle with extra pieces. Do the extra pieces provide you with a faster result? Not if it takes more time and energy after the puzzle is complete to figure out what you will do with the extra pieces.