How to Schedule Smarter with Labor Forecasting in Manufacturing

How to Schedule Smarter with Labor Forecasting in Manufacturing

Many manufacturers have a scheduling system in place but still struggle with overstaffed shifts, shorthanded rushes, and unacceptable productivity levels. These challenges are pushing manufacturers to consider strategies for improving labor forecasting to align labor resources to production demands better.

Turn a Tactical Process into a Strategic Solution

Historically, managers looked at their current demand to build out schedules just days before assigning shifts. However, with the rise of just-in-time manufacturing and changing labor laws requiring companies to post schedules two weeks in advance, process problems develop when creating accurate mid-range labor schedules. Complexities like unpredictable staff availability and mapping workers to unknown, future production volumes are leading many manufacturers to look at improving their labor forecasting through automated solutions.

An Aberdeen study reveals that 42% of organizations using automated scheduling tools also reported using scenario planning software to better align their labor costs to their real-time service demands. By forecasting their labor needs based on their real historical demand, manufacturers can realize the bottom-line benefits of strategically aligning labor scheduling to the rest of their business.

Labor Forecasting for Improved Profitability

Labor forecasting is one component of demand forecasting — a comprehensive process that predicts how busy manufacturers will be at any future moment. Using accurate demand estimates, plant managers can predict and schedule the required number of employees at any given time, avoiding understaffing peak periods or overstaffing slow ones. Accurate demand planning is a powerful strategy for companies to reduce labor costs, improve scheduling efficiency, and enhance their quality of service.

In addition to deploying the right people at the right time, other long-term benefits of improved labor forecasting include:

  • Higher overall productivity. With production lines adequately staffed to meet the workload, employees can focus on performing their jobs well versus feeling the pressure of being short-staffed.
  • Increased retention rates. Chronic understaffing may cause employees to feel mentally stressed and drained. Too much stress can cause burnout, which can lead to turnover.
  • Improved decision-making for plant managers. When the day-to-day staffing runs smoothly, managers can focus their energy on other strategic, long-term decisions.

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