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Open Access Research article

Effect of work schedule design on productivity of mechanised harvesting operations in Chile

Philippe Passicot1 and Glen E Murphy2*

Author Affiliations

1 Forestal Mininco, Avda. Alemania 751, Los Angeles, Chile

2 School of Forestry and Primary Industries, Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua, New Zealand

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New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science 2013, 43:2  doi:10.1186/1179-5395-43-2

Published: 13 February 2013

Abstract

Background

To improve production efficiency and harvesting economics some forest companies are looking at extended hours of use for forest machinery, which may include longer shift lengths, multiple shifts per day, and more harvesting days per week. A review of the literature provides mixed signals on the costs and benefits of extending work hours.

Methods

A long-term data base, which contained over 30 000 machine day records and was maintained by a Chilean forest company, was used to evaluate the effects of three types of extended work schedules (beyond a 9 hour work day) on the productivity of two types of harvesting operations; mechanised processing of Pinus radiata D. Don (radiata pine) stems into logs and mechanised harvesting of eucalypt (Eucalyptus globulus Labill and E. nitens H. Deane and Maiden) trees.

Results

Production increased as working hours increased. However, average hourly productivity fell by 9 to 30% as the working day length for equipment was extended from 9 to 18 hours. A range of factors, some interacting, were found to affect the level of decrease. These factors included type of work schedule, type of operation, season, tree species, and tree size.

Conclusions

Extending working hours beyond 9 hours per day did not result in equivalent increases in production for mechanized harvesting operations in Chile. Further research is needed on the overall economics of working extended hours.

Keywords:
Forest operations; Human factors; Mechanised equipment; Productivity; Work shifts