An employee at BMW rests between shifts at the plant in Dingolfing.
Its name is a byword for providing drivers with every comfort – and now it seems BMW is taking the same approach with its workforce. A section of the luxury car manufacturer’s works at Dingolfing in Southern Bavaria has been nicknamed ‘Altstadt‘ – German for Old Town – by the grateful employees who say they might otherwise be on the job scrapheap. (Pics)
Because Germany has a highly skilled workforce – but an increasing skills gap – BMW has taken the lead to get those laid off or in early retirement back on the production line.
As such, the production line at the Dingolfing works has elements built into it specifically aimed at making the working day easier for the senior workforce.
At the new £18m plant where car chassis‘ and drive components are put together, much thought has been put into the aches and pains that society‘s more advanced members feel.
Facilities include ergonomic back supports for the monkey-wrench turners, mobile tool-trolleys that mean workers do not have to strain themselves reaching for tools and enhanced lighting for the visually challenged.
There are stools in place where workers once stood for long hours and a ‘relaxation room’ – the more up-to-date replacement for the toilet where workers once retreated to for sneaky cigarettes.
‘This is, worldwide, the first plant designed for such workers and is an example of the BMW motto; Today for Tomorrow,’ said a company spokesman.
Even the production line itself has been slowed down around one third of the normal pace in other car plants to account for the workforce‘s general slowing down in life.
‘I don’t need to reach as far for things as I did before, and I manage to take care of things while holding myself upright it really is a relief,’ said one employee, Ludwig Lang, who has spent 40 of his 57 years working for BMW.
The Bavarian auto maker says the factory is a world first because while it employs people of all ages, it is aimed particularly at the valuable, older skilled workers it hopes to retain.
It hopes to expand the programme to 4,000 workers in production areas across German speaking countries.
‘It’s important, to use the catchphrase, given the skills shortage,’ said board member Frank-Peter Arndt. ‘But we are also deeply convinced we should not lose all that experience gained by the colleagues over many years.’
The Old Town plant comprises 6,500 square metres of space that was designed by the usual mix of industrial architects and automotive engineers – plus therapists and doctors who specialise in treating more elderly people.
BMW‘s ratio of workers aged over 50 will rise from 25 per cent today to 45 per cent by 2020 – hence the investment in looking after them.
A greater proportion of tasks in the Old Town plant are performed by robots.
Otherwise it is a normal car plant operating a three-shift, round-the-clock work system for 200 people.
The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce says Germany lacks about 400,000 skilled workers, meaning there is a prediction of a higher return to work by seniors in the years to come in all industries.
Via Daily Mail