Can You Afford a Collision? The Importance of a Proper Shift Turnover
June 19, 2019

Shift Turnover is an essential part of any plant’s daily routine.  The key to this meeting is the accurate delivery of correct and precise operating information, along with the updated plan to the next shift. This communication and collaboration ensure a seamless transition, and when done right, it can prevent a “collision” (e.g., “bad day”; Safety incident, Production Loss, Poor Performance, Asset Damage, etc.).

As an Officer of the Deck (OOD) trained Naval Officer, collisions, groundings, and other “bad day” scenarios were always top of mind when on the watch. Critical information and a proper turnover were vital to the crew’s safety and for proper navigation of the vessel; this is a solemn duty. The OOD takes notes, assesses information, logs changes, and maintains situational awareness to avoid hazards throughout the watch.  The Captain sets his expectations for the OOD through his night orders and provides guidance for when and how he wants to be informed.  The watch turnover is a very deliberate process, and its preparation is a watch-long event.  Failure to provide a complete picture to the next watch could lead to a potentially dire situation.

Manufacturing plants aren’t naval vessels, but many industries would benefit from a few turnover fundamentals taken from the Navy.  Using a ship’s hierarchy, for example:

  • 1. The Plant or Production Manager (Captain) must provide daily expectations and priorities. He/She must also communicate these expectations throughout the day.The Production Manager must set the team’s communication expectations, though logs, KPIs, and shift to shift information. Finally, he/she must also prepare for contingencies, having a Plan “B” ready for execution when the current operation fails to go as planned.
  • 2. The Shift Supervisor (OOD) must have the most current information on the operation and full knowledge of the plan.The Shift Supervisor must communicate and collaborate with other departments and shifts frequently; not communicating with the entire shift is the same as providing bad information. Like the OOD, the Shift Supervisor must prepare for the next shift turnover throughout the shift to minimize potential hazards for the oncoming crew. Setting the next shift up for success must always be the goal of the Shift Supervisor and a key measure for a successful shift. After the Shift turnover, the successful Shift Supervisor walks the area, meets with each operator to ensure the plan is understood.
  • 3. Each oncoming shift operator (Watchstander) is integral to the success of the plan as they directly interact with the operation.The operators must also treat the Shift Turnover with the same seriousness and expectations as the Supervisors. Successful operators must be aware of the shift plan, know their responsibilities concerning the plan, understand the potential barriers to success, and what has been done to mitigate losses. Each operator should take notes and logs and keep the Shift Supervisor informed throughout the shift, providing input and support as needed.

When was the last time you sat in one of your shift turnovers?  Is your shift turnover an opportunity for success or viewed as a necessary evil?  The shift turnover is the most crucial meeting of the day, and when done correctly, it will set up the day for success and prevent a “collision.”

If you control the shift performance, it will lead to better days, and better days lead to successful weeks and months; it will help you Turn Your Potential Into Reality.

Author Bio

Bob Moak, Commander US Navy (ret), has 25 years combine in Management Consulting and EHS. He currently specializes in Operational Excellence and Changes Management in the areas of asset management, energy management, and environment, health and safety (EHS).