As seen in Waste Advantage – May 2020
In late 2018, a commercial MRF contacted Leadpoint Business Services. They had 100 percent employee turnover every month, maintenance had fallen way behind schedule, and its ownership was new to the MRF world. They had an operations problem.
When OSAAS Makes Sense
Companies typically call Leadpoint because their MRF has a challenge: system operation, personnel, or safety. Leadpoint is best known for implementing its high-performance work team model. Embedding a full-time crew of employees, onsite managers and leads, and partnering with the customer on safety programs are hallmarks of this model. But “one size fits all” doesn’t always apply. Sometimes we’re asked to go beyond personnel issues and dive deeper.
Leadpoint needed to take a different approach with this MRF. They used Outsourced Support as a Service (OSAAS) to organize and address the human side of the plant’s problem and shared industry experience to improve the operation overall.
When is an MRF is better suited for OSAAS consulting than for ongoing workforce management?
- When MRFs lose operations managers, key staff, a large proportion of their labor … or a combination of all three
- When a company invests in a new site or new equipment that puts a strain on the existing management team
- When market conditions or commodity values require an MRF to change its process, equipment or culture to meet shifting revenue streams
- When a municipality chooses to run an MRF and needs operations support or coaching to move quickly and efficiently toward their goal
OSAAS In Practice
Leadpoint’s customer was a waste disposal company that had purchased a commercial MRF. The customer knew waste disposal inside-out but was less familiar with MRF operations. When the site transitioned to new ownership, there was 100 percent turnover each month. The customer turned to a “day labor” company to replace their workforce and get back to business.
However, problems arose right away. The culprit: lack of training, expertise and industry knowledge on the part of the MRF management team, staffing company and workers. That was when Leadpoint was brought in—not to make another complete turnover of staff, but instead to work with management to get the plant running efficiently and profitably with a full-time team of competent employees.
Job One: Training
“First, we embedded two members of our Operations Support Team to assess the situation and begin training from the ground up,” said Todd Hubbard, Leadpoint’s director of business development. “We trained the baler operators, equipment operators and sorters. We implemented a safety program.
“And, we consulted with the owners about how to get out from under a backlog of several thousand tons of OCC material that had been left outside, exposed to rain, for months,” he said. “We had the data to show them that it would cost more to process that material than they could ever get back in revenue.
It was a hard pill to swallow, but the customer agreed to take the loss and start over. Within a few weeks, the plant was set up to segregate their commercial printer mix, process 15 tons an hour, and maximize the revenue of the materials and the plant.
Before Leadpoint, Lockout/Tagout wasn’t being done consistently, bale stacking protocol was absent, machines weren’t being repaired correctly, and there were deficiencies in forklift safety. “We also established safety protocols where none had existed previously,” Hubbard said. “Working with the customer’s corporate safety director, we established safety protocols, trained the managers and employees, and significantly reduced safety risks throughout the plant.”
Once plant operations and safety were stabilized, Leadpoint’s team created a workforce hierarchy. “We believe it’s important to identify people with leadership potential, then prepare them to move into lead roles,” Hubbard continued. “When we took that step, it improved productivity and, equally important, built the morale of the team. In our experience, when people see opportunities to advance, they are motivated to work harder and stay longer.”
Path to Profitability
Leadpoint’s OSAAS approach achieved three meaningful outcomes:
- The customer was able to focus on what was most important to the business—output and revenue—while Leadpoint focused on how to improve the performance of the team.
- Managers were put into place who worked hand-in-hand with leadership to develop business plans then execute them. Leadpoint cultivated a spirit of continuous improvement.
- Leadpoint’s industry knowledge and operations expertise helped this MRF move forward and prevented a return to the chaos they had experienced in the past.
Leadpoint delivered its Operations Support as a Service (OSAAS) solution. In this model, our consultants and industry experts come onsite for a short-term engagement to trouble-shoot and implement operations solutions and to help MRFs with their day-in, day-out “firefighting.” At the end of such an engagement, we leave the in-house team with the tools they need to run a more efficient, productive and safe operation for the long term.
Today, this MRF is greatly improved. Plant operations are safer and less chaotic, with results that are stronger each month. Are operations perfect? Not yet. But thanks to Leadpoint’s OSAAS model, the team is focused, motivated and optimized for long-term success.