Workforce managment software makes lean staffs more efficient

Since adopting workforce management software, Briggs & Stratton has reduced its workforce by 20 percent while also increasing throughput. "We estimate that's saved us about a million dollars," says John Guy, VP, Supply Chain and Distribution, Briggs & Stratton.


Workforce management solutions offer guidance for making lean staffs more efficient
One of the consequences of the U.S. recession for manufacturing has been the increase in the practice of employee layoffs.

Workers and management

That, of course, makes efficient workforce management more important. After all, once a company has had a reduction in force, it becomes vital to maximize productivity of the remaining employees to ensure they meet corporate goals.
That indeed is why sales of workforce management software grew well in 2008, says Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting . Fluss also expects the workforce management market to continue growing well in coming years.
For example, the requirement to provide a better customer experience while improving productivity and controlling costs is important for contact centers during the recession, Fluss says.
"Workforce management continues to be one of the most important contact center productivity tools," Fluss says. "By optimizing the use of the new generation of management solutions, contact centers can reduce staff related costs by 10 percent to 20 percent, enabling companies to come through the recession with minimum impact on service levels and the customer experience."
Tom Kozenski, a VP with inventory, transportation, and workforce management solution supplier RedPrairie, also has seen an increase in demand for workforce management solutions, because, as he says, "when money's tight, people want full value out of everything-including employees."
One of the highest costs in any supply chain is labor, so layoffs offer a way to quickly and substantially reduce cost, Kozenski says. But, in reality, that is a short-sighted approach, he says.
"If a manufacturer's management has the vision, optimizing the workforce usually proves to be a more strategic approach," Kozenski says. "That way, productivity increases quickly-there's usually a labor productivity improvement of somewhere between five percent and 25 percent. Additionally, the company is better prepared to seize opportunity when the economy eventually turns around because its labor force is already efficient."
Briggs & Stratton , a Milwaukee-based producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, realized that level of improvement. The company's replacement parts division handles 70 thousand to 75 thousand SKUs representing $40 million to $45 million in inventory.
In the past, there was no standardized way for associates to do their jobs or to measure productivity. Management realized the company could gain greater productivity if it standardized work methods, set goals, and measured results, says Bill Harlow, director of distribution operations for the replacement parts division.
When the company deployed a RedPrairie comprehensive workforce management solution for its distribution and packaging operations, chief among its goals was to enhance associates' productivity through use of preferred work methods and discrete standards based on actual work content, Harlow says. That would ensure productivity measurements were fair and accurate, providing a solid base for improvement programs and associate assessment.
"Since deploying the solution, Briggs & Stratton has been able to reduce its workforce by 20 percent, but also increase throughput," says John Guy, vice president of Supply Chain and Distribution at Briggs & Stratton. "We estimate that's saved us about a million dollars."

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 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...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

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.