Communication is Key – 5 Things to Consider for Shift Change Overs & Stand-Up Meetings.

effective communication

In the last 12 months I think it’s safe to say that everyone working in a manufacturing environment, and indeed most working environments, have realized the importance of effective communication.

Communication can include:

  • Interacting with team members
  • Interacting with supervisors and managers
  • Managers interacting with their team or other groups in the company
  • Transmitting updates on issues, the status of production and processes


Shift Handovers & Daily Gemba/Accountability Meetings

From an Operations Management perspective, possibly two of the most critical times from a communication perspective is during Shift Handovers and Daily Accountability or Gemba Meetings. With many companies operating multiple shifts or on a full 24×7 basis, the handover of accurate and reliable information across shift changes is critical to the continuity of safe and efficient working in manufacturing. Good communication during tiered meetings and handovers contributes to improved productivity and the prevention of mistakes or indeed accidents.

5 Questions You Need to Address

effective communication

  1. Are the three of these elements (above) standardized across your site? Particularly in relation to how the information is captured and how it is handed over. Some of the information is standard and may relate to Work Order Status, output figures achieved in previous shift, any issues on the line with equipment, material etc. Other items would relate to safety issues, yield or quality issues.
  2. How and when is the data that is discussed captured during the shift? Some companies use Shift Handover Forms, or meet at a Shift Handover Board. Some of it may be hourly output or counts that are written in tabular form. Others may be Downtime Trackers, Incidents or General Issue Trackers, which may include handwritten notes.
  3. How is this information shared? Is this information used for analysis purposes or to feed into process improvements? How is this information communicated to other tiered meetings in other departments where you require their help e.g., maintenance or engineering? How is the information communicated to the higher Tiers within daily accountability? And how is the additional information from the Operators or Associates captured during the shift by the Line or Area Supervisor? Is this via hand written notes, some of which get transcribed to the shift changeover form or board?
  4. Could some of this information be captured electronically? Could some of this information be captured electronically to support or replace some of the traditional methods – both automatic and manual capture of information can help to provide a consistent “message” for shift changeover, and to support a consistent communication process for the actual handover. Could this electronically captured data support other critical tiered meeting escalations or the sharing of information at cross function tiered meetings? And could it be accurate and insightful information that could feed into PDCAs, DMAICs or A3 Problem Solving?
  5. What will the impact to your shift changeover and tiered meetings be?  If your organization plans to adopt a hybrid form of onsite/offsite work for many employees including manufacturing support functions, how will this effect shift changeover and tiered meetings?

What are your experiences?

Could Work Order Status and Production updates including counts, yield, DT (OEE type data) be pulled from your MES and Automation into a Visual Factory?

Could data that is captured during the shift on incidents, ideas, issues be captured in Apps that are available on mobile devices throughout the plant? If so, what would be the correct use of these applications to support the hybrid model, but not lose the “priceless” communication that takes place face to face at the Gemba?

I think this is a question that has been asked for several years by IT and Operations Technology, and it is also a question that many operations people are fearful of. While many may acknowledge the shortcomings of some of the manually captured and manually communicated methods, they are fearful that the critical interactions and communication among the associates and their immediate supervisors can be negatively affected by some technical solutions which are implemented to digitize a specific process or manual system, which looking at the overall “manual system” and how people at different levels of the organization, or in different roles, input to and interact with the system.

Replacing a manual system with a digital system is often a wasted opportunity. The entire “Current State” needs to be reviewed, and in identifying the desired “Future State”, technology should be looked on as part of the solution, and even an enabler to improving some aspects that still may be left where communication and sharing of information is done person to person.

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