Seasonal peaks, buyers who want more flexibility and agencies that have run out of staff: it's all in the day to day work for planners of fruit and vegetable production and trade companies. The new staff planning automation system by Shifter is specially developed to better anticipate swings in the supply of work and staff. "Our system is tailored to the required flexibility for fruit and vegetable companies," says CEO Gijs-Jan van het Kaar.
Shifter was founded in 2014 and as of this year the fruit and vegetable sector became a focus market. "We heard from the fruit and vegetable companies that the buyers, often supermarkets, are exerting an increasing amount of pressure. They often want to phone in with the number of product they're coming to collect that day in the morning. You have to learn to handle this as a chain. Logistical processing are generally well automated, but the staff planning is often behind in this area. We often see a lack of oversight in staff costs, high bills from agencies, too much overtime and working hour exceedances. This means there is much to do in this area. Our system helps make an estimation of how many people you will need to do the work based on historical facts, including the situation of there only being some of the orders in. Despite these last minute orders, our estimates take away the stress from planning. This makes people happy," says Gijs-Jan.
Unique about Shifter is that the planning for the permanent staff as well as the coordination with agencies is integrated into one system. "This is unique in the market," says Gijs-Jan. "Employers can see at a glance where flex staff can effectively supplement permanent staff. Employment agencies can directly fill the holes in the plan with their staff and take the hours they worked out of the system. It also offers optimal planning by steering by cost and yield. When you try to manage this with Excels, phone calls and emails you have to deal with high agency fees, too many over hours or both."
"When you employ hundreds of people there is always someone ill. Usually replacements are organised by the team leader who calls a list of agencies. In our system you can send out the request and the agencies can respond to it. Because everyone can see the request immediately, the chance of finding someone is much higher. You can also send the request to your own staff. Experience teaches us that if employees are directly involved in the planning, they often want to work more," according to Gijs-Jan.
"Shifter also saves companies a lot of money. When planning their own staff and agency staffs in separate systems, there is often 5-10% excess staff planned. They are always used somewhere, but in reality they aren't needed to carry out the work. Thanks to our system the stress is more manageable, so you have more time for work," concludes Gijs-Jan. "Working flexibility is primarily a coordination problem. We try to solve that problem more and more, every day, by using technology in a smart manner."
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Gijs-Jan van het Kaar