In Greenland the hours count a little more

Time is short in the hours of daylight when staff in Greenland businesses are really busy. All their customers want their goods before the onset of winter and the sea freezes over. Reliable work times from the Workforce Management system get discussions going in the business world while improving the workplace at the same time.

Summer is the high season for Greenland companies, when man and machines are pushed to straining point to prepare as many goods as possible and have them dispatched by ship before bad weather and winter curb their activities. The winter affords time for more relaxed maintenance work, while in summer in some companies there is a shortage of manpower.

One of the companies operating in all weather conditions is the shipping line Royal Arctic Line. The shipping line is under an obligation to the Greenland Government. It must serve both large and small ports delivering goods to towns and communities and carry back fish and shrimp for export to enable inhabitants to boost their economic wellbeing through trade with the surrounding world.

This demands efficient operation and optimum exploitation of ships, harbours and manpower. The ships are the lifeline between towns in Greenland. Some small and remote communities are only visited by ships twice a year. Without reliable freight deliveries a large part of society would come to a standstill.

This results in greater dedication both among management and employees to discover how things can be done better to ensure the arrival of goods. At the moment, Royal Arctic Line uses Workforce Management to register and validate work in harbours, where one of the most important key figures is the number of crane lifts per employee hour.

The most recent major exercise has been to analyse lifts. There are difficult operating conditions here in Greenland after studying the work processes we have introduced crane operators who actually sail with the ships. They can lift goods on and off ships quicker and more securely due to their routine experience than a harbour worker in a small harbour with few calls, says HR Manager Helena Rotvig Kristiansen.

Society’s requirements for healthy operations

Royal Greenland is also important for Greenland. The fishing business is Greenland’s largest with 875 hourly paid staff and thus provides a living for many Greenland families. Like the shipping line, Royal Greenland is owned by the Greenland Government and is bound to have a sound finances and support the community. This obliges the managements of the two companies to maintain optimum operations so both aspects are satisfied.

The fishing industry is well known for its red cherry shrimp and halibut. In the high season from April to October, seasonal workers are employed and the shortage of manpower puts pressure on fishing industry management and staff to perform to the maximum. Absence is registered in ProMark and the information is transmitted to the work foreman’s screen. This forms the basis of discussions with employees.

The number of employees is harmonised according to the number of fish arriving. Many fish are fresh when they are landed so if just one of ten workers in a production line is absent, this has an unbelievable effect on our operations, says operational purchaser Johan Berthelsen.

Working hour records from the system also play an active part in productivity improvements between the many factories up and down along the coast. Works managers discuss discrepancies in time consumption at weekly factory meetings, with particular focus on the number of working hours per ton fish. Unusual working hours must be explained, so weaknesses can be corrected and good results copied.

Consumed working hours are of major importance, as they constitute one of the largest items in our production figures second only raw material costs, says Johan Berthelsen.

Valid data for decisions

Royal Arctic Line’s freight quantities are on a downward trend, and Royal Arctic Line is under constant pressure to increase the efficiency of its operations.

The number of working hours emerging from the system is not the only aspect when companies are developed. Instead, the data is a supplement to management decisions. She ascribes a small part of the honour for awareness of the need for efficiency enhancements to the system. The figures help kick off fruitful discussions. Employees think aloud with their immediate bosses at whiteboard meetings in their search for improvements. Here valid data coaches process optimisation. Because everyone trusts the time registrations made, employees and managers can move directly to considering how the efficiency of production can be enhanced.

The art is to make the figures understandable to employees. They then ask questions which can be discussed to help get to grips with problems and find solutions, says Helena Rotvig Kristiansen.

In future, Royal Arctic Line will increase its use of the Workforce Management system in order to illuminate individual onshore activities to make every individual task more efficient.

In the future we will see more stringent task management, where we can document what we spend our time on. We will have further integration with task management and use Workforce Management as a management tool, says Helena Rotvig Kristiansen.

Greenland companies use Workforce Management for meeting registration, payroll data and as a basis for key productivity figures. Labour is an important and at times scarce resource, so key figures are used to optimise production. Optimisation of time consumption promotes an efficiently run organisation. Discrepancy in starting times is the point of departure for performance appraisal interviews.