Q&A: How Nestle Pizza Improved Efficiency with Workforce Scheduling

April 29, 2011
Questions and answers on how to implement a demand-driven, optimized workforce scheduling solution.

Food Processing's Dave Fusaro talked with Paul Herold, Factory Manager, Nestlé Pizza Division and Gregory Flessas, Founder and CEO, ScheduleSoft about how Nestlé Pizza Division was looking for a tool to help them adjust their labor schedules based on changes in production demand.

The following questions were posed to Dave, Paul and Gregory about the operational efficiencies as they related to food processing facilities.

Q. What kind of reporting capabilities are there and can they be customized?

A. ScheduleSoft has over 40 standard reports that cover most customer requirements. Our reports do not have the ability to be customized outside of choosing data fields and report options for each report but we do publish our database dictionary for 3rd-party report writing tools.

Q. Does ScheduleSoft work with other time & attendance and ERP systems?

A. Yes, we can easily integrate with legacy and future HR, payroll, ERP and time & attendance systems through our included enterprise integration serivce.  There are some standard or "certified" interfaces (i.e. SAP HR), and others can be built using user-defined import and export maps.

Q. How did Nestle measure its Return on Investment?

A. Measuring like production schedule labor requirements before and after implementation, and then by optimizing product sequencing and ergonomic rotations such that idle time was minimized.

Q. We have complex union agreements at our facility and have never been able to successfully automate those rules. What does ScheduleSoft do that's different?

A. We have a three-tier rule system where individual, group and job/run rules are kept independently, interacting at time of schedule generation.  This concept allows for parameterization of automation and optimization without customization, and many systems that have been designed or  specific purpose lack this kind of baked-in flexibility.

Q. How does someone who leads a project like this work with initiatives like "lean" or continuous improvement?

A. Lean labor depolyment is fundamentally what a system like ScheduleSoft is all about, so there is an excellent opportunity for synergy when looking at labor deployment or manufacturing policies and procedures and applying lean principles across the enterprise (to include deployment).

Q. Does your daily labor requirement change based on product mix? It sounds as if you require the same headcount regardless of product mix.

A. The best applications of our system are in areas where the production mix calls for not only different numbers of employees based on the specific SKUs being run, but even when the number is the same staffing across lines may vary by skill required or fractional covering requirements.  The more variation there is in requirements within a shift, day or across seasons the more value a system like ScheduleSoft brings to the table. With shorter and shorter supply chain execution timelines plants are becoing more reactive to customer demand and product is being "pulled" vs being more proactive and pushing product into inventory.

Q. When is the SAP demand requirement interface to be available?

APO data can be currently pulled into ScheduleSoft, with the caveat being that it needs to be properly sequenced.

Q. Does this interact with a time/attendance program such as Kronos?

Yes, we have several customers who use Kronos, ADP, Kaba, and other time & attendance systems with ScheduleSoft.

Q. All time you talked about labor rules. Does your solution control machine groups rules too?

As far as qualifications and line-of progression scheduling, yes.

Q. Can you show us what Schedulesoft looks like?

A. To schedule a demo visit:  http://www.schedulesoft.com/Solutions/Schedule_a_Demo

Q. For Paul (with Nestle Pizza Division): When did you starting seeing a return on the investment after implementation? What was the payback period achieved?

A. We saw a return on day one and continue to benefit from the application. We achieved significant ROI.

Q. How many employees over how many shifts?

650 employees over 3 shifts

Q. How does ScheduleSoft interface with Temporary Agencies? We spend a lot of time interfacing with temp agencies on last minute needs on each shift.

A. ScheduleSoft has been made available to temporary labor providers so that they can have advance notice of gaps and provide labor with the right skills at the lowest possible cost (vs. last minute high cost call outs).

Q. In a multi-site environment are you used to running ScheduleSoft centrally or site by site?

A. We can handle multi-site either centrally, or site-by-site

Q. How difficult would it be to implement Schedule Soft first in a custom, legacy systems environment and then transition to SAP after some years. This is something that can be done?


A. The eventual integration to SAP is a simple one for ScheduleSoft. In addition, many of our customers acquire and divest sites regularly so that even when this is not the original plan it is often the case that ScheduleSoft is implemented before or after another entperise system is brought in (since ScheduleSoft is considered foundation and has stayed after the purchase)

Q. Does ScheduleSoft have application outside of manufacturing? 

A. Yes, any industry with complex shift scheduling is a good fit. We have many public sector, energy, consumer goods and food processing customers.

Q. Greg, Was the final goal is to meet demand, respect constraints or achieve the least cost?

A. Yes. The objective is always to meet demand at the lowest possible cost wthout violating any constraints.  In the real world where constraints are routinely violated, we give you visibility into which constraints are being violated, when, why and by whom.

Q. How does a variable outbound schedule tie in. Front-end demand offers more stability than on daily outbound deliveries? 

A. Whether production or other forecastabe demand is used on the input site, a wave-based outbound demand system can also be used (in fact can be used for one department even if abother is forecasted in a different way).

Q. Do you provide the ability to add skill sets and names of temps when scheduling labor? How do you designate one temp has a higher skill set than another?

A. Yes. Often there are multiple layers of temporary employees (seasonal, temp-to-hire, temp, part time) with specific skills and labor rules all meeting the same labor requirements in sequence after full time employees (or sometimes without any full timers).  As for differences of otherwise equally qualified employees, we allow for multiple tie-breakers to be defined by the users and set for each employee.

Q. Is ScheduleSoft able to allocate a person to multiple locations? Like a person helping two packaging line?

Yes, our Fractional Demands capabilities support sharing an employee across multiple lines.

Q. A large piece of being successful is understsanding employee's capabilities/skills. How do you maintain this data set and keep it current?

A. We have a fully functional and integrated qualification management system (QMS) which typically replaces triba knowledge, spreadsheets, and can even augment data in ERP systems (for example, a qualification might be to the "crane" job but employees might be allowed to preference "south crane" or "north crane," data which is not used for base qualification management or pay calculations and so becomes data that is now native to ScheduleSoft and not ERP.

Q. Does it have a skills matrix?

Yes, related to QMS described above.

Q. Does ScheduleSoft have much experience interfacing with JD Edwards ERP?

Yes, our enterprise integration software allows us to easily integrate with any ERP package, and we are Oracle partners as well.

Q. Has ScheduleSoft been extended to indirect labor pools such as maintenance labor based on maintence work orders and planning requirements from SAP?

Yes, in addition to parallel job scheduling (sharing an employee across lines), we have the ability to interface with Enterprise Asset Management systems to allocate jobs across multiple employees or across multiple days to the same employee, or to a group or employees.  In this way, work-order-based work can be assigned along-side line-based work.

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