Although manufacturing productivity in general in the United States appears to be on the rise, productivity across all industries tends to take a dip in the summer. Combating the summer doldrums in manufacturing takes innovative thinking and solutions that may seem counter intuitive.
A June 6, 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic News Release states that total manufacturing sector productivity increased 0.8 percent over the last four quarters. Output increased 1.6 percent and hours worked increased 0.7 percent. But as unprecedented heat waves hit new records all over the globe, many manufacturers are watching their productivity plummet.
Study Shows Hot Weather Decreases Productivity
The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago published a study last summer that explored the effect of heat on worker productivity and economic output in India. In labor-intensive manufacturing processes such as cloth weaving and garment manufacturing, productivity dropped by as much as 4% per degree above 27 degrees Celsius (80.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
Also see the July 19th, Business Insider article “Heat Wave: Effects On Economic Productivity”
Summer Shutdowns Can Increase Overall Productivity
We can’t control the weather, or whether or not employees come to work, but there is something manufacturers can do to prevent the dreaded summer dip in productivity. First, take a good look at your company’s operational history to determine if summer weather is a factor in your productivity levels. If you see a recurring dip, you might consider a summer shutdown. A week-long or even a month-long shutdown during the hot summer months can actually increase productivity. It’s not just the employees who have a hard time achieving maximum productivity during warm months. Equipment can also demonstrate an affinity for cooler weather, getting more finicky as temperatures rise.
Summer shutdowns are already common in Europe, and new studies are showing a surprising correlation between increased productivity and fewer work hours. And, if employees all take their vacation at once, there are fewer staffing gaps during the rest of the year.
Beware Heat-related Illness
If you decide to power through the summer heat, make sure you are protecting your employees from heat-related illness. OSHA recently issued a new alert about the dangers of working in the heat. Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for establishing a heat illness prevention program if workers are exposed to high temperatures. You can find more details on OSHA’s “Water. Rest. Shade.” web page.
There is good news: Companies and Industries using Automation are not severely impacted
While equipment can also demonstrate an affinity for cooler weather, getting more finicky as temperatures rise, highly automated production facilities and manufacturing plants did not see the same drop in productivity. (However, across the board, absenteeism increased by 5% with just a one-degree increase over the average daily temperature). The good news for our customers is that the Autometrix line of cutting machines keep on going with utmost reliability, strength and consistency, so you should not see a major impact in your productivity. In fact you can depend on it to pick up the work load when the human workforce needs a helping hand.
Don’t let the heat bring you down. Find out more about Autometrix cutting solutions, contact us today.