Training assures our shops will be sustainable and that all are operating at their highest and best use. Scheduling does that for all the resources in our shops in light of market demand.

Last August we ran a post asking what was a company’s most important job?

Ford says Quality is Job 1...
Ford says Quality is Job 1…

It caused quite a stir on the many LinkedIn Forums and attracted a number of thoughtful comments.

The economy and markets for our precision machined products have changed since then, thanks to all the shenanigans in Washington D.C. involving the election and the fiscal cliff. Not to mention whatever is going on with the currencies  and economies  affecting imports and exports all around the world.

Based on comments from recent visits with members I think it is time to reconsider that question  in light of circumstances today.

What is the most important job in our shops- today?

most-important-job-everToday we do not seem to have the flexibility to grow our way out of our limits by adding new technology ( takes new employees ) or adding people ( we can’t find skilled people and with housing still underwater, even we did find them they won’t move). So we have to maximize (not just optimize) what we can produce with what we have. Adding more of either just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

To me that means two things-

  1.  We need to upgrade cross training for our people, 
  2.  We need our schedulers to do the impossible. 

Cross training increases our teams’ ability to be agile, flexibile, and competent.

To meet challenges after a key team member is lost due to illness, retirement or accident. Cross training upgrades the value of each employee. It makes our shop more sustainable, by increasing the odds that our equipment will be operating. So the trainers and mentors play a key role in keeping our production and talent aligned. How is that going in your shop?

Scheduling is how we assure the greatest return for the resources deployed in our shop.

Scheduling is where all the assets and tools that we have can be applied to meet the market’s needs for our services and products. Assuring that all of our equipment and people are operating at their highest and best use is what the savvy scheduler is doing- to maximize the dollar throughput collected for each hour of shoptime from our customers.

You can rely on software for schedulingif you are, I sure hope that someone has done some reality checking recently on the factors that your program uses for availability, prtoductivity and cost.

You can rely on the inside sales department to schedule your shop. If so I hope that “my inside sales rep” is the loudest and most obnoxious to assure that “my job” gets to the fron t of the line. I hope that is not the system at your company.

Or you can rely on a professional who works as part of a team- to understand the demands of the market, the limits of the equipment, and the abilities of the folks on the floor to assure that every thing is running at its “highest and best use” to assure the flow of product out the door and cash reciepts from the customers is a steady and growing stream.

Once the right folks have been hired, I’m thinking the most important job is having a schedule that assures that they and the equipment resources at their disposal are operating at their highest and best use.

What do you think?

Job 1 Clock


Business influenza information abounds. But what is authoritative?
The media is flooded with all kinds of stories about the Swine Flu /2009 H1N1 Novel Influenza. Our email boxes are being filled with all kinds of rumors, myths, and offers regarding this possible ‘pandemic.’
We’ve looked at a lot of sites, and a lot of resources. The workplace  planning tab at looked like a great all in one place resource for manufacturers like us. But following a link there led me to and  I think that this is the one H1N1 influenza resource that you need.

Here's a 'Tool You Can Use!'
Here's a 'Tool You Can Use!'

Besides technical disease information and precautions, here are some of the ideas  from this site that employers should be considering if the H1N1 outbreak occurs this year.

  1. Prepare for increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, and plan ways for essential business functions to continue.
  2. Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
  3. Prepare for the possibility of school dismissal or temporary closure of child care programs
  4. Consider increasing social distancing in the workplace and canceling non-essential business travel
  5. Make sure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance, and that your employees are aware of these policies.
  6. Make contingency plans for increased absenteeism caused by illness in workers or illness in workers’ family members that would require them to stay home. Planning for absenteeism could include cross-training current employees or hiring temporary workers.

More ‘Tools You Can Use’ include:
Born before 1957? Interesting article HERE.
For training materials including powerpoints and spanish language materials try here
OSHA has an easy to read explanation of what a pandemic is and other resources for employers and employees.
OSHA guidance on preparing our workplaces
The ability to anticipate and intelligently manage risk is what separates the great managers from the wannabes. These links help you with your preparations.
Have you reviewed your  sick leave, cross training, and other policies in preparation for the upcoming influenza season?