IET, Inc.
3539 Glendale Ave
Toledo, Ohio 43614

Case Study 3-11886

How best to resolve a disagreement? Let’s see what the data says.

Fundamental engineering work measurement resolves a key management-union dispute

The Customer

A breakfast cereal manufacturer specializing in health conscious products

The Challenge

Layout and space restrictions in manufacturing posed safety hazards for operators interacting with the conventional sit-down lift trucks that moved material through the facility. Management had proposed adoption of walk-behind stacker lifts to reduce safety risks, but the union argued that more people would be needed to maintain the required production pace. The company needed to assess the overall labor implications of adopting the slower-moving lift equipment based not on intuition, but facts.

The Solution

IET’s engineers structured an analysis of the plant’s current operations that would answer two important questions: (1) How will the material handling functions be affected by replacing sit-down lift trucks with walk-behind stackers? (2) What labor is required to support typical line operating conditions using the preferred material handling equipment? IET measured baseline labor performance through a combination of time study and work sampling. These studies proved that the plant’s current fleet of sit-down lift trucks routinely performed their tasks at speeds equal to or less than the maximum speed of a walk-behind stacker. Additionally, IET’s analysis revealed that some line support operators were significantly under-utilized even when running product mixes that demanded the most labor support.

IET’s assessment proved that hazards could be reduced with no impact on production by using walk-behind stackers. Equally important, headcount requirements in the affected areas could be reduced 20% per shift while maintaining typical line speeds and processing rates. The customer’s management team implemented the recommended changes and achieved the benefits they expected.

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