Getting The Most Out Of Your Assets

Similar to squeezing the last bit of toothpaste from the tube, the practice of asset utilization is meant to get every cent out of your investment.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So why do many manufacturers insist on going around in circles? Rather than investing in tools that help them make the most of their assets -- human and capital -- manufacturers tend to do it the hard way.

Whether it is understanding and scheduling maintenance, purchasing new equipment or optimizing work shifts to get the most out of your capital investments, manufacturers need to get a better grip on what goes on in all corners of the company.

For example, Hamon USA, an environmental engineering company that manufactures all types of air pollution control, including chimneys, needed to better utilize its payroll function. After several demonstrations, the company went with CheckPoint HR, an Edison, N.J.-based provider of human resource management solutions.

According to Phyllis Kaesler, who is based at Hamon's U.S. headquarters in Somerville, N.J., the old payroll system didn't provide certain reports and in some cases double data input was necessary. Hamon has 350 hourly union and non-union employees.

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"The union employees work in several different states, and they can work in several different states in one week," explains Kaesler. "The Workers' Compensation report [that we have to file] wants hours and earnings by state. It's a really complex report, but CheckPoint does it automatically, which saves me a lot of time."

In terms of return on the investment, "Time is money of course, but we did an accounting survey between the two companies and we saved about $200,000 per year because previously we were using two payroll companies, one for the hourly and one for the salaried employees," Kaesler says.

Making sure employees are paid is a good thing, but what about making sure employees are happy?

At National Frozen Foods Corp. (NFF), a Seattle-based producer of frozen vegetables, there are preferences that need to be accommodated in order to get the best work out of employees.

"Employees come to the HR person and say 'I don't like working with Suzy and I only want to work on the pea line.' Goofy little preference items that help make the workforce happier," says John Meersman, director of IT/CIO of NFF.

Prior to switching to Chelmsford, Mass.-based workforce management provider Kronos' scheduling product in the Workforce Central suite, NFF was using spreadsheets and relying on the memory of the HR person.

"We went from the Stone Age with old-fashioned time clocks to a totally automated system," says Meersman.

"Paychecks are more accurate and there are less on-demand checks," he adds. "Instead of the payroll person being responsible for the entire process, we pushed it down to the employees along with the supervisors. This ensures the information is correct even before it gets to payroll. What used to take four or five days to do now only takes a day and a half."

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