United Equipment Accessories (UEA) has seen immense growth in our hydraulic swivel business. In fact, we’re on pace to more than double our 2017 hydraulic sales output.
As we’ve shared in recent posts, with growth comes challenges, and in this case specifically meeting the pace of a ramped up production schedule.
To meet the schedule challenges of the increased sales demand, UEA has staffed and successfully launched a new night production shift. Currently the staffing is three team members with plans to expand to five by third quarter.
The new shift is critical for the UEA production team to take full advantage of capital resources dedicated to the fabrication of rotary unions, also called hydraulic swivels. The additional hours simply allow the sophisticated CNC equipment to produce more.
UEA faced some challenges getting this new shift up and running, most notably, recruiting and training operators for the advanced CNC machines. These machines have multiple axis functions that require several months of training to become proficient. Alignment with the current daytime shift was another challenge because all team members are trained on the first shift. This new shift runs 10 hours in length, four nights per week. It begins at 7:15 PM and concludes at 5:45 AM.
Other challenges that had to be resolved included compiling a contact list for the team to be able to reach support from Engineering, Management, and Human Resources. Preventative Maintenance routines needed to be accelerated to account for equipment running more hours in a day.
Communication between the two shifts was another factor to be resolved. There is a 15 minute overlap for the two teams to meet in the morning for the shift hand-off. However, there is a 4-hour gap after the day shift leaves and the night team begins. To bridge this communication gap, an electronic pass down system was adopted by using Microsoft One Note software to make detailed information available. Anytime throughout the day or night, comments can be entered and saved for future reference. This helps ensure that team members have the information about status of equipment, processes, and production jobs readily available at their workstation.
UEA team members continue to rise to the occasion to meet unique challenges. Even with these challenges, it has been a rewarding experience to launch a new production shift. As we continue to look to the future, UEA is beginning to plan a possible weekend shift staff of production operators. The experience of adding this new shift has taught us many lessons will help pave the road for an exciting future for UEA.
If you’re interesting in learning more, check out our recent blog about the shop floor shuffle.