SHAW'S SUPERMARKETS EMBRACES STOREWIDE LABOR SCHEDULING

HOUSTON -- Shaw's Supermarkets next month will begin implementing a comprehensive labor-scheduling program at the front end that takes into account all components of a given task as well as the skill levels of associates and then assigns jobs to specific employees. Once the system is fully installed at the front end, Shaw's will establish a time frame for rolling it out in other departments, including

HOUSTON -- Shaw's Supermarkets next month will begin implementing a comprehensive labor-scheduling program at the front end that takes into account all components of a given task as well as the skill levels of associates and then assigns jobs to specific employees. Once the system is fully installed at the front end, Shaw's will establish a time frame for rolling it out in other departments, including bakery, said Jeff McGovern, manager of retail administration at Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass.

Some details of the labor-scheduling program were touched upon during a workshop session at the Food Marketing Institute's MarkeTechnics convention here this month. Additional information was provided by McGovern, who did not speak at the workshop, in an interview with SN following the convention.

In determining labor-scheduling requirements, the program looks at a number of key variables for each task. For example, in grocery, case volume and weight might be considered; at the front end, customer count and peak times would be analyzed, and in the bakery, quantity of rolls to be produced would be examined.

The program, which is being developed in-house by Shaw's, also analyzed other core functions for running the store, including unloading trucks, moving product to the shelf, opening cases and stocking shelves, McGovern said.

"Whatever the volume activities are that will result in additional labor hours scheduled for a department will no longer be a manual process," he said.

The labor-scheduling process will be rolled out for front-end operations first because fewer variables are involved, he said. In contrast, other departments that may have a wider range of components to consider will be added later.

For example, the grocery department might receive 10 trailers a week, with variables such as when the department should be stocked having to be taken into account.

McGovern said Shaw's intends to expand the labor-scheduling system to the bakery department once an automated production system, now being installed chainwide, is complete.

The automated bakery production system is designed to help managers run the bakery, which generates 2% to 3% of total store sales, Paul Gannon, senior vice president of finance and administration systems at Shaw's, said during the FMI MarkeTechnics workshop session.

Shaw's also is planning to expand its computer-assisted ordering program beyond grocery and frozen foods to dairy and some direct-store-delivery items such as breads.