Can you eliminate personnel to cut costs?

A team of carpenters on special projects in the maintenance department was composed of two senior men and a helper. The helper's job consisted largely of lifting components, fetching materials from the supply room, and making minor adjustments.


A team of carpenters on special projects in the maintenance department was composed of two senior men and a helper. The helper's job consisted largely of lifting components, fetching materials from the supply room, and making minor adjustments.

When a cost-cutting drive was announced by the president, Plant Engineer Bob Shaffer and a systems expert assessed maintenance operations in search of workers or tasks that could be eliminated without impairing efficiency. When they viewed the carpenter work team in action, the systems man suggested it to Shaffer as an opportunity for cost reduction.

"After the helper performs his simple functions, he stands around idle the rest of the time," he pointed out. "The senior guys don't have to be prima donnas; they can do the grunt tasks as well as the helper. His job can be dispensed with."

Shaffer agreed and the helper was assigned elsewhere.

The helper, supported by the carpenters and plant steward, protested the team reduction.

"For one thing," the steward pointed out, "the tasks done by the helper aren't included in the senior men's job classification. For another, three guys on the team constitutes a long established practice. For a third, with the helper eliminated the two remaining men have to work their butts off."

The plant engineer refused to back down.

"You won't get away with this," the union man promised.

Question: Can management do away with the helper's job?

Expert's opinion: Shaffer phoned the company's labor relations attorney for his reading on the dispute. Luke Adams replied, "I'd suggest you reinstate the helper. Fighting the union on this could cost more than you'll save. Management normally has a right to determine crew size, but you'll probably run into trouble doing away with a long-standing practice unilaterally. It sounds like a good item for negotiation when contract renewal time rolls around."

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me