A Dive Into Manufacturing: A Plant Relocation Checklist

 

Businesses in manufacturing must quickly adapt to the changing demands and technologies of their industries. Often times, this requires a reprioritization of resources – including perhaps the need to relocate or expand plants and other facilities. If you’re a business that has come to realize it’s time to move, there are a number of things you should keep in mind. Below we’ve composed a simple manufacturing plant relocation checklist to help:

Equipment Audit: Any plant relocation should include a thorough audit of existing equipment. Keep in mind: Some equipment might be easier to simply replace at the new facility, rather than repair and transport. Relocation can be a good opportunity to tie up loose ends and ensure that your equipment is not only in compliance, but in top working condition as well. For this process, it’s important to keep track of each machine in a spreadsheet, along with the status of its working condition.

Local Regulations: You’ll need to examine local issues and whether or not the area has already received approval for zoning, something that’s usually done through a city council. Other local issues you’ll want to pay attention to include property taxes and labor laws.

Safety Issues: Some of this ties into providing a thorough equipment audit, but it’s also important to ensure your new facility meets all the safety standards, as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For more on OSHA, visit OSHA.gov.

Environmental Aspects: In addition to local regulations, it’s important to also pay attention to federal requirements that regulate emissions (Clean Air Act – EPA.gov) and laws that regulate the disposal of wastes.

At the end of the day, it goes without saying that each company has unique needs and requirements to meet. For help with relocation, check out the relocation service from Strom Engineering. Also, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

 

 

How Hiring Replacement Workers During a Strike Benefits Your Business

Labor disputes resulting in workplace strikes can have devastating effects not only on businesses, but also on local economies. However, if proper Business Continuity Planning has taken place, the fallout can be mitigated. The solution? Hiring replacement workers during a strike.

For its part, Strom Engineering provides a 5-step approach that empowers businesses to continue on and remain profitable with happy customers, even as they negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with their employees’ labor unions. The 5-step process is as follows:

Phase 1: Assessing the situation

Strom understands every business is different, has unique needs, and serves different audiences. That’s why early in the process, it’s important to establish an understanding of your business’s procedures, history, and culture. At this time, we’ll examine the following:

  • Labor distribution
  • Job descriptions and work aids
  • Processes and procedures
  • Production quotas

Phase 2: Recruiting the right temp workers

Strom draws from its large database of over 30,000 employees to find the right temp workers to assist your business during the dispute. We consider what skills your jobsite requires to function smoothly and recruit the right workers to carry out the business processes. In addition to our existing database, we recruit using:

  • Local and national recruiting
  • Job fairs
  • On-site recruitment

Phase 3: Establishing a pre-deployment strategy

It’s important for your business to maintain production promises to meet partner demands and to achieve proper customer satisfaction levels. The pre-deployment stage allows companies to strategically position the incoming temporary workforce to the local area so that they can be activated on short notice. Anticipating disruptions before an actual stoppage occurs ensures all prior business commitments are met.

Phase 4: Deploying the temporary workforce

The 4th part of the process involves executing, sending the temporary workforce to your actual jobsites, with all logistics taken into account. During the deployment stage, we’ll cover scheduling, housing, transportation of workers to and from jobsites, orientation and training, management protocols, and the establishment of performance standards, the latter of which ensures that high expectations are met.

Phase 5: Disbanding the workforce when it’s time

Temporary workforces allow you to be flexible. You can scale up to fill voids left by strikes and scale down and disband once labor negotiation resolutions occur. The disbandment process is swift and involves an assessment of each onsite project to help transition from a temporary workforce back to a permanent one. Additionally, the disbandment process includes an evaluation to see how effective the operation was and make recommendations to update your business continuity plan accordingly.

The Benefits

Each of the 5 phases is designed to benefit your company during what would otherwise be work stoppages. You’ll be able to meet demands, stay profitable, keep prior agreements, satisfy customers, and keep the overall reputation of your business intact.

Learn more about how temp workforces can help by reading our other post, The Importance of Contingent Workforces in Today’s Business Climate

How to Analyze and Improve Business Processes

An overall audit or examination of your business’s current processes, especially if your company is involved in manufacturing, has the ability to significantly cut down on waste with the result of drastically improving workplace efficiency. When it concerns how to improve manufacturing processes throughout your business, you’ll want to consider the following:

Outline the entire manufacturing process

One of the first things you’ll want to do is outline the entire production process itself — all the way from the workers needed to attend to the production line, to the machines themselves. What technology needs to be updated? Exactly what parts of the manufacturing process are slowing you down? Exactly whom do you have scheduled, and are there enough workers with the right skillsets assigned to handle each unique part of the process? Perhaps you need to provide more training or change things up.

Analyze the costs closely & share the data

The evidence that you’re becoming more efficient in the manufacturing process can be seen in your financials. Gather the data, closely track it, and share it among your workforce — most especially with your project managers. Familiarizing them with the costs will empower them to cut down on all things wasteful they experience day-to-day.

Prepare for issues that could halt production

Machines break, so be prepared for this and any other kind of issues that could cause the entire manufacturing process to go awry. Devise backup plans and review how to fix issues before actual problems occur.

Embrace automation

The little things add up, whether it’s using an outdated program that makes entering data an arduous task or a machine that requires manual control. The goal here is to automate more things about the workflow process so that your employees have more time to be productive in other areas that deserve attention. In effect, labor costs can be reduced and you can increase on-the-job safety.

Take advantage of scalable workforces

Having the ability to scale your workforce up during peak production periods, then scale down when you’re not as busy allows you to cut out unnecessary downtime and push harder when it matters most. For increased scalability, consider utilizing a managed workforce.

Tracking business processes can also help in another area: Making your current employees more efficient and thus, happier. Read our other post, How to Improve Employee Morale in the Workplace

Labor Dispute Preparation 101: How Temporary Staffing Can Help

Labor disruptions can occur for any number of reasons ranging from strikes to natural disasters. No matter what the cause, these disruptions have the potential to negatively impact your business. Because of the unpredictability of these events, it’s important that you have a plan in place that sufficiently addresses anything that could threaten your business’s operational efficiency.

By taking the advantages of utilizing a temporary workforce into consideration, you can properly prepare in a way that emphasizes continuity amid adversity. Below are the benefits of temporary staffing agencies and how you can utilize these workforces to your advantage:

Temporary workforces are mobile
Strom Engineering has the ability to deploy a temporary workforce on a rapid basis. Unlike traditional staffing companies, they can handle many of the logistics as well, whether it’s housing, transportation, or anything in-between.

Temporary workforces offer flexibility
Since they are not restricted by ‘Union work rules’ a temporary workforce offers the flexibility a permanent workforce can lack. Also once your labor dispute is resolved, the temporary workforce can be disbanded. This allows you to return to normal operations without repercussions.

Temporary workforces are pre-trained
At Strom, we maintain a large database of employees, all with relevant project experience. Upon working with Strom, we can identify the right employees that can meet your business’s unique manufacturing and operational demands.

Temporary workforces assist with continuity
The deployment of temporary workforces emphasizes continuity of business operations. When it comes to how to prepare for a strike, you can demonstrate to a union that your business is still meeting its obligations by adding a temporary work force and deploying it. This can allow you to achieve leverage during the negotiation process.

Temporary workforces can be cost effective
When managed correctly, temporary workforces can save you both time and money by working outside of the restrictions of ‘union work rules.’ This additional flexibility in the workforce often times allows clients to reduce their overall workforce size required to operate. With fewer slowdowns, increased production, and reduced labor hours per unit, Strom allows you to remain profitable.

For more information regarding how a temporary workforce can assist you ahead of a labor disruption, contact the experts at Strom Engineering today. To learn about how temporary workforces can help your business, as compared to permanent employees, read our post, Permanent VS Temporary Replacements

How Does Collective Bargaining Protect Employers & Employees?

For many larger companies, collective bargaining represents an integral part of the employer-employee relationship – but exactly what is it? In simplest terms, it’s the process in which employees band together to negotiate job details such as wages and working conditions with the business that’s employing them. The idea here is that when employees join with one another, they have strength in numbers and therefore, more negotiating leverage to receive any desired employment terms.

Employees don’t typically do the negotiating themselves, however. In most cases, a labor union negotiates on their behalf with the representatives of their employer. The goal is to reach a bargaining agreement or contract that’s suitable for both sides. When employees collectively bargain, there are usually a number of goals in mind, including those that are protective in nature:

Wages: Unions work to achieve higher pay for their members.

Hours: Unions work to ensure that employment hours are suitable to the liking of their members. Additionally, they work to ensure that employees receive extra pay for any overtime hours their members work.

Safety: Unions negotiate with the employer to ensure that workplace conditions are safe enough for the employees to work in. They also work to ensure that proper training protocols are in place.

Grievances: Unions and employers work to ensure that proper grievance protocols are in place. Should an employee believe the terms of the bargaining contract are violated – how do they address it with the employer and resolve the issue?

Job Statuses: Unions and employers work to ensure that employee job statuses can’t be arbitrarily terminated without justification.

Other Benefits: Paid time off, sick leave, maternity leave, health coverage, retirement benefits, and other issues may also be on the negotiating table.

Collective Bargaining Protects Both Sides

How does collective bargaining protect employees? An employee workforce that isn’t collectively united together may not be seen as standing on equal footing in terms of the employer-employee relationship. By combining into one, the result allows employees to better represent their goals – especially in terms of the aforementioned issues. They can protect their rights, their job statuses, and work with better peace-of-mind.

How does collective bargaining protect employers? A negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is seen as beneficial to both sides has a number of benefits for the employer: The employer can rest assured that workplace morale is kept up. Additionally, the employer can take into consideration the concerns of their workforce – especially in regards to providing a safe work environment; when addressed, this can improve workforce standards and ensure that any onsite accidents are kept to a minimum.

Need help handling the collective bargaining process with your employees’ union? Contact the experts at Strom Engineering today.

To learn more about employer-union contract negotiations, read our other blog post, How to Prepare for Union Contract Negotiations

Questions to Ask When Creating a Business Contingency Plan For Natural Disasters

cold-front-63037_1280 (1)The occurrence of natural disasters is simply out of anyone’s control. While you can’t stop them from occurring altogether, you can prepare to minimize any potential fallout and work to protect business assets. This isn’t only critical for businesses, but also for the sake of those who you employ and the customers who rely on your offerings.

When business contingency planning for natural disasters, it’s important to develop a detailed strategy based on Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Answer the following questions as you begin to create your plan:

How will you monitor the storm/natural disaster?

Some natural disasters happen without warning (I.E. an earthquake), but other kinds like hurricanes provide a considerable amount of time to prepare in advance. Whatever the case, make sure you have a way to monitor the incident from the time you hear about it, then throughout the aftermath/relief efforts. Access to web resources is great, but the Internet can become inaccessible. Plan to rely on older resources like radio, which will surely broadcast important information from the National Weather Service to your area.

How will you communicate?

Communication is key to successfully steering your business through a natural disaster. It’s also the key step in staying organized. Determine points of contact and who on your team is responsible for what preceding the event, throughout the event, and during the aftermath. Everyone on your team should have each other’s phone numbers. Additionally, you as a business owner should be accessible – especially in the instance of a mobile network outage. That being said, knowing each other’s physical location throughout the disaster is important and something that can be determined in advance, albeit with some flexibility.

How will you back up your data?

It’s absolutely critical that all data is backed up in advance, especially if you’re a data-driven business. Don’t wait to back up your data right before a natural disaster; rather, back it up to servers on a continuous basis, as this is a critical part of the business contingency planning process. Check out these data backup options, as provided by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

Do you have a backup power supply?

No matter what kind of business you are, it’s probably critical that you have some kind of backup power supply ready to go in the event that there’s an outage. It’ll make staying organized throughout the disaster that much easier, in addition to helping speed up the recovery process (dependent upon the type of natural disaster, outages can occur for prolonged periods of time).

Do you need windstorm protection?

Failure to properly board up windows in advance of a storm/hurricane can result in catastrophic damage that could otherwise, have been easily avoidable. Familiarize yourself with how you can do this successfully beforehand.

Do you have a way to pay employees?

An inability to pay your employees during a natural disaster can lead to low morale and distrust among the workforce. Additionally, unusually fluctuated hours can make planning payments more difficult. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the guidelines, as set out by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Can you carry out post incident business transactions?

Means to process payments via credit and debit cards may be down in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In such cases, it may be necessary that you rely on cash – especially if you’re a retail business. Also, if you owe partners for services you rely on to operate, make payment plans in advance.

How will you maintain your web presence?

When people have questions during periods of uncertainty, they go to the web. Have your website updated to list proper communication methods before any disasters occurs. If possible, plan to update your website & social media profiles throughout the disaster with any changes in hours/services. Your customers will be able to appreciate you more and you’ll be able to respond to their inquires on a case-by-case basis.

The Verdict

When it comes to how to plan for natural disasters, there’s a lot to take into consideration – much of which is dependent upon the unique needs and structure of your business. However, a well thought-out contingency plan should allow you to minimize or even negate any negative effects a disaster can have on your business – ultimately, allowing you to continue on without much disruption. For more information on how to prepare your business for a natural disaster, contact Strom Engineering today.

For more information on preparing your business for incidents that could disrupt your business, read our other post, Tech Considerations for Natural Disasters & Their Role in Continuity

Right to Work Legislation: What Impact Does it Have on Union-Employer Negotiations?

UntitledRight to Work: When you hear the term, you might think, “Well obviously, every American has a right to work!” So what exactly does this mean? Currently, there are 26 states in the U.S. with Right to Work statutes – laws that ensure state citizens that they have a right to refuse participating in a labor union associated with their employer. That’s not to say, however, that labor unions are obsolete in these parts of the country, it only means that whether or not an employee decides to join is completely voluntary.

Right-to-Work Laws: Pros and Cons

Those favoring Right to Work argue that these statutes have an upside: Workers aren’t forced to pay hundreds of dollars in union fees for services they may not necessarily want in the first place – thus saving them money. Proponents also argue that these states can attract more businesses, businesses that may want to operate in a setting that’s not as union heavy.

On the other hand, those against Right to Work argue that these statutes result in lower wages because of an inability to bargain freely. They also argue that these states’ employers are less likely to offer benefits like pensions and health insurance – since there may be less of a labor union presence fighting on the behalf of workers.

Affecting Contract Agreements

The impact of right to work laws on unions and employers can affect the contract negotiating process. When unions reach contracts that require all employees to pay dues, the impact is that they’re much better funded. Because of this, they argue that they have a much stronger ability to fight for higher wages and benefits on behalf of unionized employees. However, such agreements are not allowed in Right to Work states.

In a Right to Work state, for example, an employee’s thought process may be, “Why pay unions fees when I don’t have to? The union is going to fight on behalf of the entire workforce regardless.” But when employees opt out of union dues, unions are less powerful, can’t operate as effectively because of lack of funding, and in large, are less likely to reach effective contract agreements – the foremost right to work effect on unions.

What It Comes Down To

There are many obvious upsides and downsides when it comes to Right to Work. In essence, it’s an argument of individual choice (do I have to pay union fees?) vs. the idea that if everyone joins, unions are able to negotiate benefits more effectively.

If you’re a business that operates in a state that’s Right to Work or a state that could soon become Right to Work, Strom Engineering has the ability to advise you regarding these very complex laws. Over the years, we’ve helped many companies in regards to labor union negotiations; in addition to helping them set up reliable backup plans in case contract agreements can’t be reached. View our consulting services to see how we can help.

For information on how you can prepare for contract negotiations, whether you’re the employer or the union, read our post, How to Prepare for Labor Union Contract Negotiations

Cost Considerations for Business Contingency Planning

A contingency plan is defined as the following: A strategy that can be put into practice in the event that a problematic circumstance threatens to affect your business’s operations. This can mean anything from a storm knocking your company’s data center offline, to unexpected costs arising as you look to wrap up a major project.

The contingency plan is, therefore, designed to ensure that your business continues to operate without any disruptions – or at least, with as few as possible. Needless to say, this means that having an effective plan readily available should be one of your highest priorities. But how do you go about maintaining one while taking cost considerations into account? Keep the following in mind:

Tie Business Contingency Cost peak Planning Directly to Your Budget

Any contingency plan should be closely associated with your business’s overall budget. Money may need to be set aside in a lock box, so to speak – meaning that funds are readily available only in the instance that an emergency situation arises.

Take Murphy’s Law Into Consideration

Think long-term. Murphy’s Law states: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. To negate Murphy’s Law, identify the most common type of disruptions unique to your business and determine an estimation of costs that correspond with each.

The Cost of Business Contingency Planning VS the Cost of Facing an Emergency Unprepared

Prioritizing a savings amount for a contingency plan may cost you financially in the short-term, but will also provide you with peace-of-mind in the long-term. Take into consideration what you put at risk by not having a properly funded contingency plan: The inability to pay valued employees who could leave as a result, the loss of customers, your standing as a trusted provider in your respective industry, and potentially – a complete shutdown of operations that could threaten your company’s long-term viability in the market.

Should something threaten to disrupt your business, you can rest assured that saving for a contingency plan will likely cost you a whole lot less compared to if you were to face an incident without having properly saved.

The Verdict

Budgeting and financial management considerations are certainly paramount when formulating any plan. In the end, contingency planning is all about making unforeseen consequences foreseen – and properly preparing to financially cover them. This will ensure that your business keeps high morale and stays effective, even in the most trying of times.

Fore more information on planning for work disruptions, read our post, What’s the Difference? Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, & Labor Contingency Planning.

How to Prepare for Labor Union Contract Negotiations

The inability to reach agreements in labor disputes can have profound consequences not only for the operations of the businesses in question, but also for workforces – whether it’s lost wages, deceases in general morale, or simply adding new complications to peoples’ everyday routines. Needless to say, a lot is at stake. This means that when any labor negotiation is about to occur, a lot of strategic prep work is required on both sides. Below we talk a bit about what you should focus on as your business considers how to prepare for labor negotiations.

Done deal

 

Try to get a Pulse on how your workforce feels
How is current company morale? How employees have dealt with HR can be indicative of their needs in the workplace. Make sure you understand what your workforce is seeking as you head into union negotiations.

Determine flexibility
Naturally, labor unions are going to try and get the best deals possible for their members. You’re going to be asked to make compromises and while you want what’s best for your employees, you’ll want to make sure that any concessions you might make don’t harm your operating costs. You’ll want to take into account things like healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, parental leave, vacation, hours, and most importantly, wages. How flexible can you be in the aforementioned areas without hurting your business financially? Simply said, you’ve got to know where to put your foot down.

Compile & familiarize yourself with all the data
Getting all the documents organized is extremely important. You’re going to want to have an accurate and in-depth breakdown of all your labor costs – accounting for things like hours (including OT), benefit costs (sorted by each benefit), and finally, a timeline that shows how your labor level has trended over an extended period of time. Having properly sorted data that you’re already familiar with and can use for quick reference will allow you to be quick on your feet during the negotiation process.

Examine past dealings with the union
Be prepared and knowledgeable regarding your company’s previous dealings with the union. This is usually a pretty good indicator of the strategy the other side is going to use once again. The union is likely to repeat a push for some of the things you didn’t concede last time around; how effectively you were able to counter whatever it was, are you willing to concede it this time around (has your business performance changed?) and if not, how big of an obstacle is it in ultimately reaching an agreement?

Have a backup plan
Prepare for the possibility that you might not be able to reach a resolution with the labor union as soon as you’d like. That’s why it’s important that you have a solid contingency plan in place – assuring that your business is able to continue to operate without disruption until you’re ultimately able to reach an agreement with the other side. For help in this area, view Strom’s consulting services. We can help you set up a well-thought-out backup plan that’ll ensure your business’s stability as you go through the negotiation process.

Conclusion
When it comes to labor contract negotiations, there are many factors that play a part in successfully reaching deals (collective bargaining can be an important aspect, for example. Read our post, How Does Collective Bargaining Protect Employers & Employees?). Thinking on the spot without much preparation is not an option. By making sure everything’s properly organized and ready to go, you’ll be much more likely to find consensus and negotiate a deal that makes everyone happy.

What’s the Difference? Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, & Labor Contingency Planning

Both disaster recovery and business continuity share one thing in common: they require well-thought-out plans in instances where things go wrong – allowing businesses to continue functioning in a way that’s as seamless as possible. By understanding the difference between business continuity & disaster recovery, you’ll be able to properly form and assign responsibilities to particular segments of your organization – allowing your team members to effectively carry out tasks when faced with difficult situations.

businessman is examine document and woman is working on laptop c

Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity is, in fact, a broad company plan that includes steps regarding how an organization will continue to operate in the event that it’s faced with an occurrence that would otherwise cause disruption. This encompasses numerous aspects of the business – all of which play an integral part in ensuring that the company is able to continue operating effectively. To start planning a continuity plan, businesses should analyze their most important services/products, ask exactly what allows them to make those available, and then determine exactly how to back up those factors that provide availability.

Disaster Recovery Plan

On the other hand, disaster recovery is just one part of an organization’s overall business continuity plan. It primarily refers to a business’s ability to recover data when there’s some kind of technical failure, fire at a data center, storm that results in facility damage, or some other kind of technical issue. Therefore, an effective disaster recovery plan should involve all aspects of the business, so operations can continue despite whatever incident has occurred.

Labor Contingency Planning

Similar to disaster recovery planning, Labor Contingency is just one portion of the overall Business Continuity Plan. The primary focus is to plan for an unforeseen labor stoppage. This could be in the form of a union dispute, natural disaster, shortage of available skilled workers, or even if you are in a ‘job island’ and cannot find the necessary workforce to meet seasonal demand. Having a well thought out plan in place allows the company to remain flexible. By bringing in temporary replacement workers to supplement or even replace the normal workforce, companies are able to continue to remain profitable even during labor strife.

Recovery

Incidents that threaten your business’s performance are, without a doubt, extremely challenging. However, when you take the time to plan and, by understanding the similarities and differences between business continuity, disaster recovery, and labor contingency planning, you can make sure you’re best prepared to handle whatever you’re confronted with. Additionally by taking the opportunity to look at previous challenging times, and then creating a plan that covers any previous issues and how they were dealt with, your plan will continue to improve. This will allow you to keep your business on track, ensure morale remains high for both employees and customers, and maintain profits.

For more information on how you can prepare for a natural disaster – specifically when it comes to tech and continuity – read our post, Tech Considerations for Natural Disasters & Their Role in Continuity.

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