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Staffing Studies

Ian Nimmo discusses how workload staffing studies are becoming increasingly important in the industry and looks at the economics of business models post COVID. In the past, time and motion studies were used to analyze staff efficiency, but that no longer works. After gathering this information, we can get a good understanding of the operator’s workload by looking at data collected on the amount, the complexity of equipment, how interactions affect the process, the amount of automation required, how much of the workload is adding to the operator, and how many moves the operator is making.

UCDS offers a full line of staffing studies to evaluate your current plant condition, make realistic and achievable recommendations for improvement, and aid you in implementing our recommendations. An integral part of this line is a set of staffing assessments and complimentary work team design services.

In a typical oil refinery study, it is not unusual to identify field operator staffing reductions of 10 percent and console operator reductions of 25 percent. At a typical $500,000/duty station, the cost of our services can be recouped in a matter of weeks. In addition, when properly implemented, these staffing reductions can result in reduced labor expenses while seeing improvements in normal operation, abnormal situation management and emergency response.

In many facilities, staffing levels are determined through the process of labor force negotiations, which typically is not concerned with optimizing expenses. And while many techniques are used to determine operator workload — from time and motion studies to loop counts  each has limitations. Our unique methodology addresses the differences between types of operations and facilities. This fact is borne out by multiple studies that have generated a comprehensive database of operator positions against which your facility can be measured.

It is also extremely important to ensure that when changes to the organization are made, facility safety is not compromised. As such, we strongly recommend the Client undertake a Management of Organization Change study. Based on recent incidents, and subsequent recommendations from investigations such as the Baker report, and legislation such as that in Contra Costa County, this is becoming a requirement. A complimentary abnormal situation staffing assessment should also be considered.

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