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Blog Banner of Manufacturing Shift Schedules Complete Guide

Manufacturing Shift Schedules: A Complete Guide

In the manufacturing industry, the contribution of labor is the most. Machinery and other equipment bring a certain level of automation, but it’s not enough to replace workers. Without workers, there is no manufacturing, so managers should always pay attention to manufacturing shift schedules.

When managing a manufacturing unit, your attention might be divided across the entire manufacturing process, but the primary focus must be on employees. While manufacturing shift scheduling can be tricky, there are some ways to make the whole process simpler.

This article will discuss various manufacturing shift patterns and how you can choose the best schedule type for your company.

Understanding the kind of manufacturing shift schedules that most companies implement can help you make a calculated decision. While the best shift schedule model will depend on factors such as workforce size, business needs, and preferences, here are the most common manufacturing shift patterns you must know about.

1. Rotating shifts

It’s the literal definition of how this manufacturing shift schedule is. The rotating shift patterns require employees regularly switch between day and night shifts. With rotating shifts, companies can maintain 24/7 operations with fewer workers.

For instance, a team can work day shifts for one week while the other works the night shift. The following week, the teams will exchange shifts before returning to their respective shifts. Rotating shifts are standard manufacturing work schedules at companies requiring consistent production without a complex workforce management system.

2. DuPont shifts

While rotating manufacturing shift schedules are simple to maintain, they disturb the sleeping pattern of the workers as shift changes are too frequent to get used to. A better alternative is the DuPont manufacturing shift pattern that follows a four-week cycle that uses a 12-hour rotating shift.

In this manufacturing shift schedule, you have to divide your workforce into four teams, each switching between day and night shifts with days off between shifts. The main benefit of maintaining such a schedule is that workers in each group get a seven days consecutive break every month.

However, for the DuPont rotating shift pattern, you will require four teams, and skilled workers should be in each group. This will require several skilled workers who work longer shifts without much break.

3. 2-3-2 shifts

The 2-3-2 work schedule is also known as the Pitman schedule, which is more straightforward than DuPont rotating manufacturing work schedule. It also requires four teams, each team working on a rotating schedule over four weeks.

However, the working days are not continuous. The workers work the first two days, then two days off, followed by three days of work, two offs, two working days, and three days off. This is a pattern that is followed for both day and night shifts.

As the 2-3-2 shift runs over four weeks, consistency helps workers get used to the rotating shift schedule. But, it can be tiring for workers due to 3 consecutive 12-hour shifts.

4. 4 on 4 off shifts

4 on 4 off manufacturing shift schedules can be implemented at companies that require round-the-clock coverage. While it can be implemented in several patterns, the most common are:

  • 4 days working
  • 4 days off
  • 4 nights working
  • 4 days off

This work schedule’s drawback is that workers must work on weekends. However, in the manufacturing industry, workers work weekends in most shift patterns. A significant benefit of 4-on-4 manufacturing shift patterns is that your workers get four days of workweeks with four days off at a time to get enough rest.

How to pick the proper schedule for your team?

The manufacturing shift schedules we listed might seem more or less the same, but there is a significant difference in how they are implemented and affect workers’ productivity. To increase productivity and efficiency in a manufacturing company you should ensure that workers are well-rested and you have to make a wise decision when choosing a shift schedule.

Effective employee scheduling is beneficial for both employers and employees. While workers get to maintain a healthy work-life balance, employers can maintain consistent productivity. To make the decision, you must know your company goals, budget, and workforce strength. Here is what you need to know.

1. See what shift pattern fits your business needs

Every shift schedule has its prerequisites. You have to explore the requirements of your organization in depth. Understand whether your company needs to operate 24/7 to meet customers’ requirements in the market.

Are there any offs in the manufacturing process currently? What skills do you require in the workers on each shift? It would help if you answer these essential questions to decide which shift pattern fits your business requirements.

2. See when you need more workers

Different manufacturing units have other demands, and only some days of the year they do need to operate around the clock. Similarly, you will require more workers during some business hours than the rest.

Such as if you need to move inventory earlier in the day. You must know when your company’s demand for products and workers is high. See what changes you can make to the staffing demands and which manufacturing shift schedule is most suitable according to the work demands in each shift.

3. Please communicate with your employees before assigning any shift and know their preference

Never impose the new manufacturing work schedule on your workers. Instead, it would help if you communicated the changes with them openly. Your plan must provide a healthy balance between work and personal life.

This is important to maintain high employee satisfaction and retention. Currently, 80% of salaried manufacturing workers want their employers to provide more flexible work models. You should always introduce flexibility and seek employee feedback about the new work schedule before you make it live.

Best practices to assign shifts with ease

1. Use an automated software

Reading through this guide, manufacturing shift scheduling might seem simple, but things can get tricky when you have hundreds of workers to schedule. Managers must have automated software like Truein to help them with shift scheduling.

Truein is a comprehensive cloud-based employee time and attendance management software that also features shift scheduling. It is a hardware-less solution that can be easily implemented in the manufacturing industry. Managers can create and share rotating shift schedules through the dashboard.

Shift Schedule in Truein Dashboard

Schedule a demo today and see how Truein can help to make manufacturing shift scheduling simple and robust.

2. Plan the shifts in advance

Your workers will not appreciate sudden changes in their work schedules. This is why managers must take cognizance of the shift changes in advance to introduce changes gradually. It is also essential to check staff availability before creating a new manufacturing work schedule.

3. Stay compliant with the local and state rules

Finally, your manufacturing shift schedules must follow the guidelines of local and state laws regarding work shifts and overtime. It is critical to comply with the rules to create a sustainable shift schedule.


In the manufacturing industry, efficient workforce management is essential for productivity and profitability. This comprehensive manufacturing shift schedules guide will help you understand the industry’s requirements and will also help you to choose the proper shift schedule based on the company’s needs, employee expectations, and available resources.

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