What is the best Maintenance Shift Pattern?

What is the best Maintenance Shift Pattern?

Having the right Maintenance Shift Pattern for your engineering maintenance team is key. Imagine missing a batch as a manufacturing line is out of action. The customer could decide to take their business elsewhere. Imagine losing key maintenance engineers because the shift isn’t working for their personal needs. How do you decide what is the best Maintenance Shift Pattern?

What are the Maintenance Shift Pattern options?

1-Straight Days

This will be the most popular for engineers as it works around most people’s home lives. However, if you’ve got a 24/7 operation you can’t just do straight days.

2-Days and Nights

To fit a two shift Days and Nights pattern you are going to work it using two methods. The first is to have a permanent day’s team and a permanent night’s team. However, communication and handovers can then become a real challenge if it’s not tightly worked and you rigorously utilise a SAP system.

The second is to have a rotating shift; one week on day’s and one week on nights. This means the engineers will all be on the same shift pay amount and there will be an even split of experience. However again communication and handovers need to be tight. These will also be 12-hour shifts. Not everyone is up for that.

3-Double Days / Mornings and Afternoons

This shift typically will be a 6-2 / 2-10 split. Therefore, even though it’s called a morning shift it goes into the afternoon. And the afternoon shift goes into the night. However, this behind a Straight days is what we find to be the 2nd most popular shift.

You can rotate the shift with a week of days and week of nights. However, for a 24/7 operation it doesn’t quite work.

4-3 Shift

This is like the Double Day’s shift but adding a night shift between 10-6. So you could have a week of mornings, a week of afternoons and week of nights. If someone is going to have a night shift, a 1 in 3 is generally easier to stomach. If you have a 24/7 operation this is generally my personal favourite as a solution goes.

5-Continental/4 on 4 off

This has risen in popularity in recent years. It’s 4 days of 12 hours, followed by 4 days off, followed by 4 nights of 12 hours and finishing the rotation with another 4 days off.

Efficiency wise it does tend to work better for the plant. You can rotate staff around and there is always cover on a 24/7 operation.

However, because it doesn’t work by a traditional week, engineers can be working on their weekends, ruining good family time and destroying their social lives.

But saying that, they will get 4 days off in a row, so you take the rough with the smooth, right?

6-Permanent Nights

This is a great shift if you are a maintenance engineer who wants the maximum money as the shift allowance will be high. But working permanent nights? Most people don’t last long doing it so expect a fair degree of staff turnover.

7-Panama Shift

Not heard of this one? It works like this: 2 days on, 2 days off, 3 days on, 2 days off, 2 days on, 3 days off. There are similarities to a briefer version of a 4 on 4 off but it’s a tad more complicated.

It is certainly the least common and doesn’t tend to be attractive to those unfamiliar with the shift. But if it works for an engineer and the shift becomes their institutionalised preference, then you are less likely to lose them as the change of shift could put them off.

What shift do you prefer? Have you worked on a different shift from what we’ve mentioned? Which shift is your least favoured and why?

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