How will companies be able to cope with the transformation towards a society that is networked through mobile devices and digitized production? The speakers and the more than 180 people attending this year’s MTM German conference discussed this issue in Stuttgart on 23 October. The German MTM Association once again provided a platform for experts from the worlds of business and science and specialists and managers in the field of industrial engineering to share their knowledge and exchange ideas based on their experience.
Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Bauer, Head of the IAO and IAT Fraunhofer Institute at Stuttgart University, ensured that the introduction to this subject matter caught everybody’s attention. “The Internet of Things, i.e. the result of the interconnection between the physical world and the world of data, will continue to radically change the world,” he said. “The current discussions on Internet 4.0 was a hype debate and,” he added, “we’ll definitely not be talking about this term every year during the next 20 years, but the development will take place anyway,” Bauer emphasized. “Digitization in the process of industrial wealth creation will definitely have the potential to strengthen Germany as a business center. But Germany will also have to become a provider of Industry 4.0,” the head of the Institute underlined.
Industry 4.0: MTM in demand as a design partner
Bauer quoted a current study conducted by the British business magazine “The Economist” on the effects on Industry 4.0 on production work and therefore on the role played by human beings; according to this, 45 percent of jobs could disappear in the next 20 years. “The study is therefore correct if it says that almost half the jobs will vanish, particularly in the production sector,” Bauer said. “But other new jobs would be created in other sectors – e.g. where production systems, technologies and products are being developed.” Bauer believes that MTM will make a very clear contribution in this process: “Even the work performed in the future has to be designed.” And he said, “Google should not be the only design partner.”
Gabriele Caragnano, President of the Italian MTM Association, provided an impression of work design and integrated ergonomic assessment at Italian industrial corporations. Taking the example of the Fiat Chrysler automobile group, he described the use of MTM and EAWS (Ergonomic Assessment Work Sheet) to assess biomechanical workloads at work stations. Ergo-MTM, as the method is known at Fiat, has now become established as the standard in the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) production system and it is also an element in employer/works council agreements. “Transparency and communications are crucial factors in any process of change,” Caragnano said. “The prevailing principle for work in the future – i.e. in Industry 4.0 too – means doing the right things, doing so without causing any damage to people’s health and involving everybody in the process.”
Human resources requirements: valid data instead of a gut instinct
Gerhard Hinz, Head of the Compensation & Benefits Department, and Ingo Walther, Chairman of the Works Council at the main administration offices at Euler Hermes Deutschland AG, used a tandem lecture to provide evidence that this approach works in administration departments too. The “Excellence for Reorganizing the Euler Hermes Group” project, which was introduced in 2013, has introduced a large number of changes for the employees: e.g. new structures and processes, new requirements for handling IT processes and change-overs to different work stations. “In principle, we approached the implementation phase with a motivated team of employees,” Walther said. “But when the evidence of stressful situations increased, we had to face the question of whether we really had enough members of staff. After all, not even work processes that have been designed in the best possible way can cope with a quantitative overload,” said Hinz, the HR expert. “It’s not enough to use your gut instinct when it comes to human resources requirements; the correct approach involves objectively describing the situation and creating a valid database.” The assessment of risks was kick-started on the basis of MTM analyses and a training program for management staff. “The “Determining Human Resources Needs Transparently” project has provided the evidence of “where there was a crisis and where there was none”,” Walther added. “So MTM helped to confirm the assessment of the members of staff and give them a new kind of motivation for change. When people talk about MTM at Euler Hermes, it’s not linked to any building block systems,” Hinz said. “MTM now stands for an all-encompassing approach. The members of staff say that they’re ‘doing MTM’.”
Frank Iwer, the District Secretary for Tariff Policy at the IG Metall Union in Baden-Württemberg, believes that a paradigm shift is not necessary in terms of business management, but in labor policy. According to a survey of employees conducted by the IG Metall union, one person in ten already feels that they are not able to cope with demands; one third of them do not believe that they will be able to continue performing their current work until their retirement age. Iwer also believes that the majority of corporations are not prepared for the demands of the future in the light of the survey: the degree of line balancing, for example, may have increased, but activities linked to specific talents have been reduced. “The real world in 2014 indicates that work processes are increasingly directed towards “on demand” situations, but hardly any scope for development is being created. And ergonomics is definitely not restricted to a lifting device. Industry 4.0 does not automatically offer solutions,” Iwer stated. “What we need is a debate directly inwardly as well as outwardly because we’re not that certain what production work in the future might look like.”
The panel discussion chaired by MTM Managing Director Dr. Knut Kille involved Frank Iwer, Jeanette Huber from the Horx Zukunftsinstitut, MTM CEO Dr. Bernd Müller, Dr. Hans-Jürgen Braun, Continental Automotive GmbH, and the Head of the MTM Institute, Prof. Dr. Peter Kuhlang. The discussions once again focused on the prospects for human beings in Industry 4.0. The topics included human/robot cooperation, learning during the work process, work design that takes ergonomics into account, MTM as a neutral standard for measuring performance and questions of ethics and management. “We need the ability to be able to handle uncertainties. And we need the right people for that,” Jeanette Huber stated. Works council chairman Ingo Walther expressed his opinion from the auditorium once again at this point: “Industry 4.0 is probably feasible,” he said, “but the same is not automatically true of human beings 4.0.”
The working atmosphere makes corporations attractive
Jeanette Huber, a member of the management team at Horx Zukunftsinstitut GmbH, used her final exciting lecture to touch on the issue of Generation Y, i.e. those currently aged between 20 and 35, and their demands on the working world of the future. “Corporations will have to submit an application to potential employees in the future and not the other way round. As a result, they should consider in good time how they can score points in the applications market. After all,” she added, “Generation Y has real plans: carving out a career, going abroad, dropping out of the working world for a time, studying, work and parental leave, work and care, work and voluntary positions. Generation Y members are really keen to get involved, but not sacrifice themselves for their job. Performance is promoted by a good working atmosphere, which does not suppress personal motivation,” Jeanette Huber said. “This includes a new error culture, what is known as ‘positive failure” and a permanent switch between performance and relaxation phases. And finally a good dose of humor. If you want to change something, you must ensure that the people will enjoy themselves in the process.”
2014 MTM Junior Award
Sarah Pfoser (see photo on the front cover) is this year’s winner of the MTM Junior Award. Prof. Dr. Peter Kuhlang, Managing Director of the MTM Institute, praised the final paper written by the graduate, who has just received her master’s degree, as an important contribution to the ongoing development of MTM. The paper focuses on the development of a planning tool for human resources requirements for the BMW factory in Steyr/Austria based on MTM logistics data.
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