Self-service provides flexible planning and increased agility

Effective rostering is high on the agenda in many companies. With ProMark, Hartmann now digitalises the process for selling and swapping shifts. This reduces both administrative time and increases flexibility and agility.

Hartmann A/S is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of moulded-fibre packaging produced on the basis of recycled materials, such as old newspapers and magazines. The main product is egg trays, but the company also produces packaging for fruit, electronic products and household equipment.

At the Danish factory in Tønder, the machines in Production and Printing – which produce various types of sales promotion print solutions – operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The company’s 300 production employees are split between 5 shift teams, all of whom work 3 shifts. They have a rolling duty roster, which is planned for a year at a time, and the schedule is drawn up by the responsible manager for each of the 5 shift teams.

Complex planning task

Scheduling rosters for so many employees is a complex and time-consuming task. Therefore, Hartmann has been using our previous module for staff roster planning for several years now.

Once the final plan is ready and has been published, the individual employee can see his/her working hours on the intranet. The plan is also available in paper format.

However, drawing up a roster plan is one thing, implementing it is another thing. In a production company like Hartmann, demand changes constantly, which either increases or reduces the requirement for employees. Also, employees can also be hit by illness. Therefore, agility is a necessity so that production can be maintained at all times.

Available shits are offered on paper

At present, bidding for shifts is managed via the telephone or by using pen and paper. When a manager receives a notification of illness from an employee, he/she pins up a notice with the extra shifts in the Operations Office and in the Control Room. Here, the employee can check for available shifts and bid for the ones they are interested in taking. The same process applies if there is a need to call in extra staff due to an increase in production.

However, at the end of the day, it is up to the manager and the control room employee to find staff for the given date or dates. So, in case of emergencies, or if the shifts have not been covered by other employees in the team in time, the manager must start calling to get it covered.

“It is a time-consuming task to call employees which can easily take 1 hour each time. Moreover, the manager must ensure that it is the right ‘type’ of employee who takes on the shift,” explains Jan Andreasen, Project Manager in the IT department and responsible for the ProMark project.

Rest periods and verbal agreements present challenges

At present, it is up to the employee him/herself – and the manager, of course – to keep tabs on rest periods, the number of consecutive working days and so on. And, every now and then, that presents challenges. If, for example, an employee has 4 extra day shifts during the 6 days off which normally follow a series of night shifts, he/she must stay at home on the 7th day (the day on which the employee should originally have been working on their own normal shift). In such cases, the manager is suddenly left with an employee short – without it being planned or foreseen.

Moreover, Hartmann also experiences challenges when employees mutually swap shifts. These agreements are often made verbally between the employees. And, if the employees forget to inform their manager of the changes, or the manager has not registered them because they were agreed verbally in the passing, he/she loses the overview of who is actually covering a given shift.

Digital process for shift bidding and swapping in the future

In order to optimise the planning task – and not least, the handling of deviations – ProMark and Hartmann initiated a close collaboration on the digitisation of the process for bidding for shifts and shift swapping around 2 years ago.

Through a series of workshops with representatives from ‘both camps’, the need and desire for functionality was discussed, qualified, developed and tested on an ongoing basis. This has resulted in a number of improvements in the form of more employee self-service, closely integrated with our staff roster functionality and the mobile app. Therefore, Hartmann is upgrading to the latest versions of ProMark.

Increased self-service for employees

The mobile phone will be very important when it comes to communication with employees in future.

Here, employees get easy access to see their own work schedule and their own balances for holiday and flexitime. And, if the plan is changed, the affected employees receive a notification about it.

They can indicate their requests for holidays and time off which is also reflected in the scheduling tool when the plans are drawn up. And the manager can quickly decide whether the request can be granted or has to be declined.

Last but not least, employees will easily be able to see available shifts – and they will only be able to see shifts that they can legally take on in relation to the rest period regulations. This way, they will not have to keep track of it themselves. Moreover, the app also provides an opportunity to swap and put their own shifts out for sale.

The app – where it all happens!

Use of the mobile app will be voluntary. However, Hartmann anticipates that the vast majority of employees will take advantage of this opportunity instead of using the portal.

“The mobile phone will be an important tool for us, and where ‘it will all happen'”, explains Jan. “If you as an employee are interested in taking on extra shifts the app will be indispensable”.

With the modernised solution, Hartmann gets a single platform in which shifts can be created, viewed, allocated, approved and, if necessary, deleted again if the employee returns to work earlier than expected, or the company experiences a downturn in production. This provides a far better online overview, the opportunity for quicker replanning in case of changes, and thus increased flexibility and agility.

“We are looking forward to getting a system that helps our 5 shift teams establish a comprehensive overview of the staffing – with no verbal agreements and small yellow notes all over the place,” says Jan.

Hartmann expects to be able to save 0.5 to 1 hour’s administration a day and that their production will become more efficient.

“For a production company like ours, it is important to always be able to adapt our production to the demand. That requires a flexible IT solution which is what we will get with the upgrade of ProMark and the implementation of the mobile solution,” Jan concludes.