Contributor

Tom Bezigian holds a B.S. in Plastics Engineering from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell. He has been affiliated with the converting industry for more than 30 years...more

A 4-Shift, Around-the-Clock Schedule that EVERYONE Will Love

While continuous processing of industrial equipment is optimal in terms of waste, cost, and energy efficiency while maximizing machine efficiency, around the clock operations are not necessarily operator friendly, and perhaps not even management friendly.

Continuous operations require either a grueling 3-shift schedule or an unfriendly 4-shift schedule.  The 3-shift schedule requires working several days in a row without a break, normally 6-10 days in row.  The 4-shift schedule typically involves two to four 12 hour days in a row, with more or less an equal number of days off.  Covering for vacations with either schedules is problematic to say the least, as many exhaustive days in a row are required to cover for time off by fellow workers.  In my experience, this is less of a problem overseas for example in Southeast Asia, as in general there is an ample supply of workers, however, in the USA, companies rarely have excess personnel nowadays.

Now, for the first time ever, I am about to publicly disclose my secret weapon for management, supervisors, unions and operators alike... a 4-shift around-the-clock schedule that EVERYONE will love.  It is relatively easy on operators and line supervisors, little to no impact at all on management that requiring a change-agent, and best of all for the bottom line in requires less overtime pay, thus lowering cost.  The schematic below outlines the schedule.

 

                               Week

Shift

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Hours

                                        1

A

6

6

6

12

12

-

-

42

 

B

6

6

6

12

12

-

-

42

 

C

6

6

6

-

-

12

12

42

 

D

6

6

6

-

-

12

12

42

                                       2

A

6

6

6

-

-

12

12

42

 

B

6

6

6

-

-

12

12

42

 

C

6

6

6

12

12

-

-

42

 

D

6

6

6

12

12

-

-

42

 
Basically, with this schedule, each of the four shifts,work six hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of every week.  Along with time off, this allows operators and line supervisors to recuperate from 12 hours days worked.  A & B shifts then work 12 hour days on Thursday and Friday, while C & D have that time off.  C & D shifts then work Saturday and Sunday, while A & B have the weekend off.  The following week, A & B shifts work the weekend while C & D shifts work Thursday and Friday.  Repeat the two-week cycle. It's that simple!

The benefits of this schedule are fairly obvious, but I shall enumerate a few.  First, it is a fairly workable schedule.  Operators and supervisors have unanimously supported this schedule as workable,and feel the 6 hour days provide a great relief, both physically and mentally, personally and family-wise.  Happy employees are good employees with less lost-time accidents, less sick-time and arguably higher productivity and better quality and morale.  It is also easier to plan for and cover vacations because of the planned 6-hour days.  Working a grueling schedule for part of the year is better than working a grueling schedule ALL year from an operators point of view.  Though there are more, I will lastly point out that this schedule provides from less overtime hours than any other 3- or 4-shift plan I have encountered.  Under typical overtime rules, this work week averages 42 hours, where many others average about 48 hours per week, thus saving 9 hours of straight-time pay per week, which is a very significant savings over a year for the company.

On the negative side, this schedule does require each shift to work 7 days in a row during the during week cycle.  However, it must be realized that nearly all round-the-clock schedules require working many days in a row, and most of them many 12-hour days in a row.  The three day span of 6 hour days allow operators and line personnel time for important home activities, such as watching the children's sport games, concerts, and the like, repairing the car and renewing their driver's licenses, and cutting the grass, to name a few.  companies rarely have excess personnel nowadays, at least in the USA.  Feedback from operators has been universal both here and around the globe.

Please drop me a line if you have any questions on implementing this schedule or would like my assistance as a change-agent to implement it.


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