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WHAT'S NEW - BLOG - How to Manage the Brickyard Workers

MANAGING WORKERS OPERATING BRICK-MAKING MACHINERY

 

Doubell Brick-making Hyperstat

 
There is by no means a single "most effective" method. Each country has their own customs & culture involving work ethic as well as how long tea & lunch take! However, let us take a look at some good ideas to keep in mind when striving for optimal performance in brick manufacture.
 

INCENTIVES

Unless you are working for yourself, it is presumed that a labour force is employed & wages are negotiated for daily work. You want maximum output for from your workers & your staff want reasonable working conditions.
 
A bridge between employer & employee is to incentivise the production capacity. Typically, you could choose & modify one of the following ideas to suit:
 
  • Percentage of total yard's profits as bonus on wages
  • Percentage of total yard's profits as wages
  • Split profits for blocks produced beyond daily targets
  • Wage bonus for meeting production targets (or below target breakages)
Equally, negative incentives could be employed:
  • Deductions for breakages
  • Deductions for percentage of unmet target quota
But such negative practices are seen to be counter-productive in the long term due to the demoralisation if such deductions are executed.
 
Rather lead from the front with a carrot than kick from behind! 
Read on to TEAMS for an additional carrot to use.

It should be mentioned that if the workers cut corners with quality to ensure speed, incentives should be re-evaluated. Quality should never be compromised.
 
Jumbo Brick-making machine M6 Cavity Blocks
 

TARGETS

Daily targets are important if brickyard profitability is to be tracked & monitored. With the tolerance for daily variance, it is important to have a stable output figure with which one can plan the quantities of cement to order, organise aggregate delivery as well as project schedules for brick production & delivery to customers.
 
Create a theoretical target by timing the cycles executed in the morning over a period of an hour. Multiply this by the daily working hours to create your 100% efficiency target. Remember that each mould (ie brick type) will have varying cycle times.
 
Finally, calculate the average for a days production (measured over a week's period) to create a baseline current efficiency percentage.
 
Now you can employ your selected incentive method against this figure.
 
Brick-making yard with Doubell Machinery
 

ROTATION

Brick manufacture is a labour-intensive process. This means physical stresses to the body which will result in fatigue, which will lower production output speed over the course of the day. To minimise this drop in brick manufacture, it is a good idea to rotate workers.
 
Rotation should be determined at management level & not left up to the workers alone. Shifts that are too long will cause prolonged tiredness well beyond the shift. Rotations that occur too frequently will result in a drop in production because of all the context switch time. Consider using 45min shift rotations as a guideline; However you should adjust this to suit your schedule as well as workers' response.
 
Brickyard Hyperstat making Blocks with Doubell
 

MULTI-SKILLING

Whatever country, human resources are prone to a certain amount of unpredictability in terms of absenteeism. Whether from injury, illness or abandonment, safeguards can be set in place to offset the counter-production of losing a skilled worker.
 
Multi-skilling does just that - it ensures that each worker is proficient in all areas of brick-manufacture. Mixing, Machine-operation, Curing, Cleaning, Repairs, Mould-changing, etc. Naturally certain workers will be more efficient in some areas (adjust rotations/incentives to match as deemed necessary) but with all workers knowledgeable in the various skills the brickyard can overcome most labour-loss scenarios.
 
 
Doubell Panmixer mixing for concrete bricks
 
 

TEAMS

The idea behind "teams" is grouping workers with good cohesion that work well together. This can be in a single machine deployment yard where your teams would comprise of MIXING, COMPACTING & CURING.
 
But the most effective use of "teams" is when two machine deployments are used. This is by far the best gauge of brickyard efficiency as well as production output maximisation.
 
The idea is to measure the two teams against each other. Incentives can be introduced for the team with the most output! Switch out workers until the perfect combination forms for speed - also eliminate workers who are not performing & bringing the teams down. (At this point, it should be said that bottleneck workers could be trained for improvement instead of dismissal - at the manager's discretion)
 
There is a caveat that must accompany team comparison: Ensure that no negative impact is experienced! Teams may go to great lengths to gain favour if the incentives are too great. Additional breakages may be experienced from workers sabotaging opposing team(s)!
 
M4 Cavity blocks for South African Brick-making Machinery
 

BRICKYARD LAYOUT

Layout can affect the workers & ultimately the production. Distance has an exponential effect when considering times workers use (on-duty) to go drink water, take a bathroom break and to "fetch something."
 
Try keep your mixing station fairly centralised & general production area squarish rather than long. Be sure to have the foreman note the time taken when workers leave their stations as well as their reasons for doing so - it may be something you can avoid by making simple changes (eg. re-locating water source).
 
African Block-making yard run by Doubell Machinery