Efficiency and Ergonomics Go Hand in Hand
- A third of all job positions at Continental in Germany are "age-stable"
- Eye on ergonomically tested workplaces and efficient processes
- Implementation also planned across Europe and worldwide
Continental is actively tackling the demographic change. The international automobile supplier, tire producer, and industrial partner has an ergonomics project that takes a systematic and preventative approach to dealing with the inherent demographic challenges. Now the efforts taking place there are to go hand in hand with the process optimizations of Continental Business Systems (CBS). Within the framework of the ergonomics project, Continental has already been able to significantly increase the proportion of so-called age-stable job positions in production from 2007 through to the present day. In total, a third of the job positions at Continental in Germany are already age-stable. In 2007, it was still around 20 percent.
"We are assuming that by 2021, the number of production employees in the 55-to-65 age bracket will increase to around 35 percent. In 2005 it was only 8 percent, and in 2011 around 13 percent. As a corporation, we must prepare ourselves for this today and invest in the tomorrow's working world so as not to suffer any competitive disadvantages further down the road. Our ergonomics project enables us to improve the quality of job positions by optimally adapting them to the people involved. In this way, we can protect the well-being of our employees, improve production quality, and see to it that our employees have healthy working conditions through to retirement," says Dr. Peter Dolfen, head of Corporate Health, Safety, Security, Fire Prevention and Hazardous Substances Management. "The ergonomics project is now to be coupled with the Continental Business System (CBS)."
"The idea we are pursuing with CBS is to shape the entire value creation chain for products and services to make it as efficient as possible," explains Dr. Oliver Prause, head of CBS. "We look at the work processes and optimize them by, for example, cutting out anything that wastes time, effort or cost, like unnecessary movements or unsuitable process sequences. This makes it possible for us to achieve the most efficient results for our customers and to design work sequences with minimum interruptions for our employees."
More closely integrating the aims of ergonomics and CBS puts the focus on employees when it comes to increasing process efficiency. The automobile supplier thus ensures that its employees also stand to benefit when workflows are altered to enhance processes. Not only is productivity boosted but the working conditions for those on the shop floor are also improved. This means that job content is designed sensibly with ergonomically healthy work movements. "The employees should and are allowed to be challenged by their job positions. But in doing so, we must not overtax any employee - regardless of age. Combining ergonomics and CBS makes it possible for us to achieve a marriage of perfect, technical work processes and age-stable, ergonomic working conditions for the employee," emphasize Dolfen and Prause.
One example of a successful combination of ergonomics and CBS can be seen at the Continental location in Bebra. Here, the CBS principle and ergonomics were taken into account from the very beginning in setting up a work unit for the production of compressors. It was possible to design the work processes in such a way that the employees are able to switch between standing and sitting activities. In addition, they can individually adjust the height of the workplaces for the two types of activity. And the employees rotate every few hours between work stations in a fixed rhythm. This has a double advantage: The work does not become monotonous and employees all get to know the different work steps and can thus be assigned everywhere.
Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH
Continental is one of the leading automobile suppliers worldwide with a preliminary turnover of around 33.3 billion euros in 2013. Continental contributes to more driving safety and environmental protection as a provider of brake systems, systems and components for motors and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomer products. Continental is moreover a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has over 177,000 employees in 46 countries.