More responsibility and decision autonomy for employees in production

    February 21, 2024

    The key to successful shop floor solutions lies in recognizing the expertise of shop floor workers and integrating them as valuable contributors to the manufacturing process. This is one of the essences of an interview taken by one of our managers, Martin Karlowitsch, with Chief Strategy Officer and Business Unit Manager Supply Chain at Abakion, Sune Lohse. But in reality, the role of the blue men on the shop floor is mostly neglected.

    Firstly, a few words of introduction: The content, I refer to, is part of a podcast (from min 12:45 to 19:08) - and I summarized the questions & answers (it is not a transcription). The full episode with other production planning insights is available here.

    What is your take on implementing a shop floor solution for a manufacturer? Why do you think that this often is so difficult compared to implementing a warehouse solution?

    It's interesting because when clients approach us for a shop floor solution, it's usually driven by economic or planning concerns. Typically, it's the CFO wanting to measure manufacturing times or the planner ensuring correct routings. However, these concerns often don't resonate with the shop floor workers. They see no direct value in these metrics and may feel burdened by additional recording tasks. In contrast, implementing a warehouse solution is met with enthusiasm because it directly benefits warehouse staff with tools like scanners and barcodes.

    So, it sounds like you're saying that shop floor solutions should look at the shop floor workers through the needs of their day-to-day business rather than to the needs of the plant manager or the CFO.

    Exactly. Shop floor workers need to see the value in the solution for their daily tasks. Providing them with tools to prioritize orders or flag issues instantly adds tangible value to their work. Empowering them to make decisions based on their expertise enhances production efficiency.

    "You need to give autonomy to the production people. They need to run the production"

    Would this approach involve a clear separation between planning and execution?

    Not necessarily. I advocate for integrating planning more closely with execution. Currently, planners often lack the real-time insights of shop floor workers, leading to inefficiencies. By providing shop floor workers with access to planning information and empowering them to communicate directly with sales teams, we can streamline operations and improve responsiveness.

    So, it's about empowering shop floor workers and fostering collaboration across different roles and departments?

    Absolutely. Just as warehouse solutions empower warehouse staff, shop floor solutions should empower production personnel. Seamless communication and collaboration between planning and execution ensure that everyone works efficiently within their responsibilities while collectively striving towards shared goals. Reflecting real-life priorities in the ERP system enhances transparency and drives better decision-making across the supply chain.

    "I never met production people that are not skilled in their stuff and that are not good at saying what is possible and what is not possible. You as a company should use that knowledge as much as possible and integrate them as part of the supply chain with higher transparency."

    If you're interested in listening to the original voices, with Sune's delightful Scandinavian accent 😊, you can tune in to the audio here.


    What we do

    NETRONIC offers powerful scheduling software for SMB manufacturing. boasting a rich history in Gantt visualization. Our flagship product, just plan it, designed for job shops and other high-mix low-volume manufacturers, emphasizes the integration of execution mode as a vital component of our solution. We fully align with Sune's belief that shop floor workers play a pivotal role in enhancing overall company value, underscoring the importance of seamless communication and collaboration between planning/scheduling and execution for success within our industry focus. Our versatile Tablet Client empowers operators with a user-friendly and potent tool, enabling them to access comprehensive task information, prioritize their tasks, and also to provide them with a user-friendly app-style feedback tool. Continuously striving to grant operators greater autonomy in decision-making and incorporating their valuable feedback into the system ensures that schedules remain up-to-date and optimized.

    Now you are curious about our strategy to keep communication and collaboration within a job shop? My recommendation: book a discovery meeting with one of our scheduling experts :-) Just use the button below to get access to the calendar of our experts.

    Do you want to empower your shop floor operators in the scheduling process?  Book free meeting with our scheduling specialist >>


    Further readings

    User roles, hierarchies, and responsibilities in job shop scheduling

    Effective scheduling in an HMLV production environment-the jpi concept

    50% OTD improvement while reducing personnel costs by 20% with automatic finite scheduling

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