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Building a Labor Standards Program

In previous blogs, we introduced the concept of Engineered Labor Standards (ELS), showing that it is difficult get a good read of the top performers in an operation by simply looking at their throughput or units per hour completed. This blog will take this idea further, explaining some of the complexities of ELS and sharing how standards can be thoughtfully developed to contribute to a successful implementation of a Labor Management System (LMS) in any operation.

While different methods of building out ELS were previously discussed, there are many more components to a robust standards program that should be considered. While standards built through time studies, MOST (Maynard operation sequence technique), or any other method consider direct, on standard labor (tasks that directly contribute to getting product out of the door that have a standard amount of time to complete), there are many other activities that are necessary within a day that should also be captured.

For example, if an operator is driving and comes across a spill, the right thing for them to do would be to stop and clean it – however, if they are being held to a labor standard, they might hesitate as it would take time away from my direct work and therefore impact my performance percentage. For this reason, it is important that users can input indirect activities time – removing the time spent to clean from the number of minutes they have been working. See the below example for further explanation where the user has been clocked in for 20 minutes so far today…

Example Work Completed:

Activity Labor Type Duration
Picking On Standard 10
Cleaning Indirect 10


Example Performance Calculation:

As you can see, considering these indirect activities makes a large difference in how the user’s performance is perceived, even if they have utilized all of their time to contribute to necessary tasks. There are many other activities that would fall into the same indirect category as cleaning such as bathroom breaks, meetings, maintenance, or waiting for work, but it is up to the configuration user to decide what activities are tracked in order to best monitor how an employee’s time is spent.

The final critical factor to consider is travel time, as this can be upwards of 50% of an operator’s time daily, depending on the size of the building and safety considerations such as single direction aisles and maximum vehicle speed. To accommodate for this, when standards are built, it is also necessary to map the facility (typically using XYZ coordinates) as well as vehicle speeds (including acceleration, max speed, deceleration and lifting/lowering times for forks) to properly configure your vehicles to calculate travel in the LMS.

While these steps might seem very involved, the benefits of having these standards in place completely justify the work to get the system configured. By having the ability to see the full picture of an employee’s day, you are empowered with data to coach newer or lower performing employees and identify and incentivize top performers. In our next blog, we will dive into the opportunities that having a fully ELS configured LMS and how it can help you retain your best employees through use of Incentive Pay and Employee Engagement LMS Functionality.
—Caroline Sharp, St. Onge Company

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St. Onge Company is Proud to Have Been Ranked Among the Highest-Scoring Businesses on Inc. Magazine’s Annual List of Best Workplaces for 2023

We have been named to Inc. Magazine’s annual Best Workplaces list! Featured in the May/June 2023 issue, the list is the result of a comprehensive measurement of American companies that have excelled in creating exceptional workplaces and company culture, whether operating in a physical or a virtual facility.

From thousands of entries, we are one of only 591 companies honored.

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