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A member of the DIC group, Sun Chemical is a leading producer of printing inks, coatings, adhesives and supplies, pigments, masterbatches, polymers, liquid compounds, solid compounds, and application materials. Sun Chemical hired CCG to help with designing and implementing new schedules in two locations:  Kankakee, Illinois and Franklin, Ohio.

Historically the plants were hitting or exceeding production goals with close to full staffing and occasional voluntary Saturday overtime.  But increased demand and pandemic-driven changes in the workforce forced the plants to operate more hours each week. After a year of running high overtime and adding regular Saturday shifts, they were still falling behind in production. High turnover and understaffing on the backshifts made this problem worse.   

Sun Chemical  





INDUSTRY: Ink and Dye Manufacturing

WORLDWIDE EMPLOYEES: approx. 20,000 

REVENUES:  $8.5 billion

 HEADQUARTERS:  Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey




When we started the project in Franklin, production was staffed 120 hours per week, but only effectively running about 90 hours. Schedules were Monday-Friday overlapping 10 hr. shifts with a fully staffed 1st shift, a skeleton 2nd shift, and a partially staffed 3rd shift. Aggressive production goals demanded longer shifts, and soon employees were scheduled four 12's and one 8-hour shift weekly. Employee survey results showed that employees were tired and burned out. Unpredictable overtime in order to meet production goals was frustrating most senior workers who wanted 8-hour shifts and weekends off, and new hires did not mind the overtime but preferred longer 12-hour shifts and days off in a row.

In Kankakee, the plant was running a typical 120-40, balanced , 3 crew, 8 hour, fixed, fixed, 5-2. Monday - Friday operation. But growing demand, high turnover, unbalance skills and training issues meant the plant regularly ran 6 days a week in order to meet production goals. The 2nd and 3rd shifts were understaffed, and the 2nd shift had very low tenure. Our team was on-site during contract negotiations as the recently elected union leaders worked through the details of their first contract. Multiple options were presented to employees, outlining the ability to meet Employee Desires for predictable time off as well as Business Needs of increasing productivity.  



The goal of the project at Sun Chemical was to prioritize the health and safety of employees by implementing a new

schedule that allowed for voluntary overtime for those that want it, and to build consistent and predictable schedules

that would improve job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism and fatigue. At Franklin, new schedules are allowing for adequate time off, better health and safety for employees, and predictable shifts that attract new talent. The Kankakee plant implemented new schedules to capture an additional 20% of production with union support. This project allowed the plant team to revisit policies and establish best practices in their training program, vacation policy, and realignment of supervisor resources.   


Coleman Consulting Group presented different strategies at each plant. New schedules were used to entice employees to join the team. In the short term, Franklin was forced to run six days at high overtime until headcount expansions and training took hold.  Once training was completed and several subsequent operational improvements were established, an interlocking 8 and 12-hour schedule was implemented to allow maximized production within the week and helped return the plant to five days. 

At Kankakee, the solution focused on running critical equipment for the maximum number of hours. This equipment was more efficient from a labor and cost standpoint and allowed for reduced operations on the less efficient equipment. The Best Equipment Strategy (BESt) meant a considerable cost benefit for the operations. Employees ended up with schedules that had regularly planned three-day breaks and fewer scheduled weekend days.  Cost benefits from equipment and improved health and safety metrics for employees were a win-win for Sun Chemical.  

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