Efficient design at Remmers Carrosseriefabriek
2009 – Remmers in Tilburg, The Netherlands makes about 150 car bodies per year, ranging from small vans to large specialist vehicles. Remmers has designed her new car body plant in such a way that the work can be done efficiently and that it meets the latest requirements of ergonomics, energy saving and quality of work. Employees from different disciplines were involved in the innovation process.
With the merger of the company with another car body shop in the region, the operations were integrated into the old building. Then plans for the new building were developed.
In developing plans for the new building TNO (a Dutch research and consulting institution) acted as a sounding board. In a series workshops they looked at the product mix of vehicles, numbers, process steps required, time spending and possible expansion. In an assembly line with twelve employees, has been examined whether a new work-pause scheme – smart pausing – could increase flexibility in the volume of the lines. Three break-schedules were tested on output per day, fatigue of employees and job satisfaction. The test revealed that with frequent pausing and a little more break time higher output can be achieved. In the new pause system, employees take a break in pairs of two and always relieve two colleagues. A couple that just had a break take place on another workstation. Thus the staff rotate on all workstations throughout the day and the line can continue to run through during the short coffee break.
At Remmers car body shop the design of the new plant leads to higher flexibility, shorter lead times and less waste. The flexible design of the factory where new construction and repair are split, more people can work on an order simultaneously and the work can be done faster. In the new work organisation, during the preparation products are decomposed into assemblies that are partly outsourced and partly can be made at separate places. The new building and the renovation of the production have resulted in a more ergonomic design of workplaces and there is more output due to a rotating pause schedule. Employees experience this pause schedule as pleasant and less tiring.
This type of redesign can be applied in many other sectors and companies. Conditions for application are that manufacturing processes can be split. And employee involvement in the reorganization of the production process is of great importance.
See the (Dutch) book: Naar een hogere productiviteit en flexibiliteit in de maakindustrie To increased productivity and flexibility in the manufacturing industry, TNO Quality of Life, 2008. See: www.socialeinnovatiebrabant.nl