Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

The Challenge of the Aging Workforce

September 24, 2010

I am a big fan of CBS Sunday Morning. I finally watched the episode that aired a couple of weeks ago and that program contained a really interesting story about BMW. They have recognized that their workforce is aging and that they may need to make some changes to accommodate older workers. By 2020 16% of the population will be over 65 years of age, so this is a problem common to all US companies.

BMW took one production line and staffed it with people approximately 47 years of age, since they expect their workforce average age to be 47 in 2017. They just talked to the people on the line and asked how the company could make improvements for them. The company purchased custom shoes for everyone on the line and installed wooden floors, since aching feet were a universal complaint. They also added lighted magnifiers for people that were inspecting parts and new computer screens that offer larger type. One man requested a place to “stretch” when he began to feel fatigued, so they built some bars on a nearby wall so he can go over and limber up.

In total, BMW spent a measly $50,000, including lost time. Here’s what they got in return; Absenteeism dropped below the plant average; Productivity increased 7% and defects dropped to ZERO. The program was so successful, that they are expanding it to other production lines and other plants. That’s a great productivity plan for any company.


Using X-Y Cranes

April 19, 2010

My interesting call today was from Ireland. A gentleman with a deep Irish brogue related that he has a need to create a “filling station” for a bottling plant. The workers use a hose to fill the bottles and the hoses are unwieldy. They want to create a retractable system, much like you see on the hoses at the gas station, to keep the hoses supported and out-of-the-way when not in use. We can accomplish this by using a X-Y bridge crane and some heavy-duty tool balancers. This type of crane allows a user to move anywhere within an X-Y grid and use still the attachment.  A 1000 lb load will feel like a load of 10 lbs. to the worker. 

We use these cranes for hoists and vacuum lifters for a huge variety of applications. I know that it is a personal preference, but I like this type of crane much more than a jib or cantilever style crane. They are much more adaptable for changing manufacturing and handling situations. The tracks for these cranes are closed, so they don’t accumulate dirt that bogs down the works. The cranes are really easy to operate and workers seem to like them much more that jibs, which only move in a circular area.

X-Y bridge cranes cost more than jibs, however, the installation is normally much easier and less expensive than jibs, so I think it is a good trade-off. The bridge crane is much easier to move or re-configure in the future. Many jibs require a big concrete footing, so it is a major production to relocate this type of crane.

A good X-Y bridge crane can really improve productivity.