Case Studies

Labour Planning

Due to the uncertainty in today’s market the labour requirement required for each company will change depending upon demand. When this happens it is in the company’s best interest to move quickly and confidently to maintain profitability. A key tool in this is the Forecast Labour Planning document.

We at Wolf Productivity have been involved and asked to set up numerous labour planning documents to enable speedy response to unforeseen circumstances.

One such case was a request from a manufacturing company who wanted to know if they required additional hiring. The company was introducing a new product and during the launch one of their older products was coming to the end of its life.

As a cross functional team we verified the data and set up a structure where this planning document could be maintained and used for decision making in future developments.

This has become one of the most go-to documents that businesses have, as it can also be used to monitor efficiencies and shift change impacts. After the set-up of this it requires low maintenance to ensure this document is kept up to date.


Part of our role as Industrial Engineers is to carry out ergonomic assessments to ensure that the manual labour task being carried out complies with the latest HSE guidelines.

We were called to assess a task where the employees were loading finished components into storage racks ready to be moved to another line. The storage racks consisted of several layers each one having individual pods to hold the components. The employees were complaining of difficulty in putting parts to the lower layers of the racks.

When called to the line we took measurements of reach and height from origin and destination, and we also take the weight and handling method into account. On this occasion we deemed the bottom layers of the storage rack to be outside the safe working ergonomic zone for cyclic work. For a short term fix we took administrative measures and instructed the employees and the line supervisor that the bottom layers were not to be used. To fix the situation permanently a table was installed that could be raised or lowered and rotated to ensure the employees could always use the rack at the optimum height and position.

Rebalance JPH increase

On an assembly line (manual work stations and machines) the Industrial Engineer role is to examine the work content allocated to each station. Ensuring it meets the necessary ergonomic standards, and that there is not too much or too little work content allocated.

On one assembly line we worked on it was obvious that the work content had been poorly allocated by the inexperienced engineering team. Several manual work stations had been given too much work to do in the required time, as such the required hourly rate could not be achieved. Because of this we had to re-evaluate every manual work station on the line to make sure the work content was within the allocated time.

Once every station had been evaluated we knew we had to rebalance the line. We knew what work content had to be moved and where we could move it to. Ideally we would move work content into existing stations so as to not increase the headcount. However this was not always possible so additional heads were required.

When we had finished our rebalance the line achieved the required rate consistently.

Constraint Improvements

In a new manufacturing facility during the transition from prototype/launch to full production, which included additional labour and decreased Takt time, there was a need to structure the whole assembly process. Wolf Productivity was asked to lead a team to help develop this structure and standardise the operating process.

We set up a cross functional team which included each supporting function i.e. shop floor team leaders, engineering, materials, quality etc. This was the basis for improving quick and efficient communication, from design/purchase of the components to final assembly. An electronic current status sheet was created for transparency and quick reference for the current state of production in each area. This was then transferred to a white board situated in the area of each team, again to show current status.

These sheets and board were then updated each day to give real time information. To ensure good communication, these boards are reviewed by the team each morning, where any issues from the key team members could highlight or forecast potential roadblock and then create plans to minimise impact.

Process monitoring

In larger,more established companies they normally used an electronic version of process/cycle time monitoring. These are used to ensure their production requirements are met by monitoring all area of the process are within their required cycle times (takt) and performance rates (uptime). To install this capability costs a considerable amount of capital but over the life of a product would highlight potential improvement areas, identify bottlenecks and confirm many efficiencies.

There have been cases where we at Wolf have been asked if we can replicate this manually so that the facility can identify improvement areas to enable efficient use of funds.

When asked about the introduction of such a system we visited the company to assess the needs and requirement. From here we developed a plan of how to create the process, how to implement the process and how to sustain the process.

From understanding the production requirements we were able to balance work in each area. But before this could be carried out we manually cycle timed each operation to establish total work content. Once the balancing of work content had taken place, we discussed with the team the process that we intended to implement. After discussions about the data required to be captured we created a self-tracking document with target times (actual recorded and rated studies) which were completed by the shop floor workers themselves. This enabled the team to understand, if target times we not achieved, where the issues were and why. This allowed the team to put plans in place to try and eliminate repeated issues and understand new issues. This is now a data driven area and any decisions can now be made via actual recorded data.