Bierman - Producing more effectively and with better occupational health

2011 – Bierman company in Nieuw Vennep, the Netherlands  is active in the automotive industry for over 60 years. They are specialized in customizing cars and buses for individual and group wheelchair transport through producing adaptation kits. Using Demand Flow and Lean Factory principles  Bierman succeeded in organising the manufacturing process more efficiently. Lean stands for higher added value and reducing waste and Demand Flow for faster flow of orders in shorter throughput time.

Approach
In the original process, there was a lot of extra handling, temporary storage and physically demanding activities at different workstations. Creating support of the staff was a very important precondition for implementing the changes. In consultation improvements have been implemented by composing process diagrams and analysing material flows. The number of workstations required is determined and practical experiments are conducted with staff to obtain insight in differences between batch and flow production. Besides options for redesigning the product were studied. The changes that have been implemented are: setting up clear material sites for the supply of spare parts to the assembly department. In addition, facilities are provided for faster curing of the kits. Finally, initiatives have been taken to reduce the finishing of the laminated constructions.

Results

Meanwhile, a number of improvements have been realised. First products can be handled in flow now. In addition, there is less space used, less handling and better overview. The staff has become more involved in the production process and has to endure less physical strain Compared to the original situation Bierman now produces over 25% more conversion kits per week with the same amount of employees.

Workplace innovation
The employees of Bierman are actively involved in the change process, which results in processes that are smarter organized and in less waste. It is a form of working smarter in combination with higher employee participation in the innovation process.

Reference

This case description comes from results in the Manufacturing Industry (published September 23, 2011 ) and can be found in the Annex . More information about Bierman can be found at www.biermanab.nl online.