Tire centres are faced with intense seasonal activity, but this does not make it impossible to combine productivity and ergonomics.
It is normal for a tire centre manager to be primarily interested in the price and efficiency of a machine they would like to add to their shop. Intense tire changing periods do indeed require a sustained pace for which more modern equipment can lend a helping hand.
But I believe that this quest for increased performance should not be at the expense of the workers’ general health.
Getting your hands dirty
I would advise any manager to take the time to put themselves in the shoes of their workers, as they say, before making a new acquisition.
They should take the time to get their hands dirty–to do full tire change sequences. This will allow them to validate the processes and more importantly, see where things can be improved. New equipment may be needed, but sometimes a simple rearrangement will be enough to make the sequences run more smoothly.
This exercise will also allow him to understand, on the ground, what he is asking of his employees and perhaps adjust the pace by spacing out appointments or opting for strategic hiring.
One thing is certain, he may find that working on increasingly large and heavy wheels is physically demanding. Especially when these actions are repeated at a sustained pace. Through discussion and observation of the team, the manager may also find that workers are using certain shortcuts that could expose them to injury or premature fatigue.
So it might be a good time to take a closer look and change the way things are done, even if veterans say they’ve always worked that way. Especially since the sector often hires an inexperienced seasonal workforce that could put itself at risk by adopting the habits of others.
With the current challenge of hiring and retaining qualified staff, I believe that beyond the price and performance of desired machines, tire centre managers need to seriously ask themselves: How will this new equipment or layout help my employees perform their jobs with greater ease and in a safer environment?
It’s always easier to attract new talent when you can offer them a workplace where they feel that their health is taken care of.
Jonathan Landry, a graduate from Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, has been an industrial designer for Martins Industries for five years.