Extended working shifts: are they applicable to the Southeastern United States?
Logging operations in Scandinavia, Canada and the Lake States of the United States have used non-traditional (extended) working hours to increase their production for many years. However, extended shifts are uncommon in the southeastern United States. A major limitation in implementing extended working hours in the southeastern states is that logging business owners do not have a full understanding of the costs and benefits associated with extending shift number or length. This two-year project will test two questions. The first is whether extended shifts increase production and control unit costs. Safety, night productivity, employee turnover, and tax implications of machine depreciation are just some of the tangible and intangible costs and benefits that will be evaluated. The second question is whether an acceptable number of harvest cuts are suitable for extended work hours. These harvest parcel (tract) variables need to be identified and their impacts quantified. The objectives of this study are to: (1) characterize the extended shift work hour methods used in the Lake States, (2) identify factors for tract selection, (3) identify loss control and safety issues, (4) quantify the differences in machine costs between shingle shift and extended shift, and (5) develop a business decision-making tool to aid logging business owners in quantifying the costs and benefits of extended work shifts. The paper presents some initial findings from interviews with logging contractors who have successfully, and not so successfully, implemented extended working hours.