Hurks geveltechniek - Working smarter and training

2013 – ‘Hurks geveltechniek’ (facade technic) in Veldhoven, the Netherlands is part of Hurks group. The company is specialized in designing, manufacturing and installation of aluminum and steel windows and curtain walls for construction. ‘Hurks geveltechniek’ employs about 60 employees, half of which in support, design and technical positions and half in the factory in the production and installation of aluminum windows and facade elements.

Working smarter
For suppliers to the construction industry  to survive  working smarter is a must. To involve the employees, about 1.5 years ago Hurks started a world class manufacturing (WCM) program linked to a secondary vocational training on the job level 2 for all staff in the production. In addition to classes and workshops there are two weekly whiteboard meetings where they can identify problems and do improvement proposals.

The management and the MT took the initiative for an improvement program of about 2 years. The objective was to better coordinate processes in the company. The two-year training for  operator manufacturing technique (learning on the job) was a part of this program. Despite skepticism in the beginning, people were reluctant to join after a short while. The possibility to achieve a recognized vocational qualification was a trigger. An external consultant coached the project. With his help, they began to apply  techniques such as Lean, 5S, Kaizen and improvement teams. Employees also took initiatives, for example by improving their workplace, improving procedures, making instructions and tool panels, applying Kanban etc. The whiteboard meetings are still taking place to secure the process of continuous improvement.

Production processes are coordinated better now.  A greater amount of products  is delivered. The lead time is reduced from 2 weeks to 1 week and can be better predicted. The work looks better organized, the workshop is organized and exudes calm. This creates transparency and certainty for the employees. Production workers no longer are waiting if any problem occurs but make proposals or act themselves. Employees are giving feedback and there is a better interaction between employees on the floor and employees at the office. Employees grow in their jobs and are willing to take more responsibilities. Employees have more self-esteem and understand the value of their own contribution to the performance and survival of the company.

Employees must be aware that they may determine many items themselves. Real motivating it is to have responsibilities and to experience that improvement proposals are used. The management must facilitate and be open for solutions, even though they cost time and money. Board and management should have the guts to let things go. Communication and tailoring of information between the departments is necessary for proper control of the work process.

More information
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Themes: Smart working, Talent development, SME

Sector: construction

Source: Case