Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of ammonium nitrate-based products that are essential for the mining, industrial and agricultural markets. APNI is one of the largest employers in Cochise County and is committed to safety on site and in the community. This project kicked off during a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Initially the plan was to add or use a fifth crew to support the expanded shifts, but unionized employees were vocal that they wanted to keep the long breaks associated with 12 hour schedules.
Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc.
INDUSTRY: Chemical manufacturing
Number of EMPLOYEES: 150
ANNUAL REVENUE: $28 million
HEADQUARTERS: St. David, AZ
Employees were frustrated that they were being denied their expected 7 day break, compounded by the new health & safety protocols put in place during COVID-19. Our Operations Analysis findings showed that savings were not as important as training and the need for additional staffing on each crew in the "Loader" position. Our team of consultants worked with union leadership during the entire process, knowing that any new schedule implemented would still include overtime driven by the additional training and coverage requirements. Unfortunately, the concern of COVID-19 transmission between crews outweighed the idea of adding a fifth crew to alleviate shift shortages.
Blending Employee Desires with Business Needs resulted in a 4 crew, balanced, 7 days off SLC which minimized the possibility of COVID transmission between crews and allowed for significant time off for recovery.
Employees were clear that longer shifts with more predictable days off was the goal of the engagement.
Another key element to the new schedule design included a desire to shift to a Monday start which would
provide two full weekends per cycle.
The employees at APNI were clear that they wanted to keep working 12 hour shifts, and expressed that regular disruption of the long 7 day break was of significant concern. When designing schedules with employee feedback, the most highly ranked alternative schedule included an 8 day break and another offered two 5-day breaks. The consulting team designed and completed schedule design quickly and partnered withregional union leadership.