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Increased Efficiency thanks to Shift-Planning App
Interview with Michael Berner, Production Manager, BorgWarner Ludwigsburg GmbH
DIALOG: Mr. Berner, how do you cope with the complexity involved in the digital networking of production activities?
MB: The one clear goal of our Industry 4.0 solution in production was that by the time our employees are using the shift-planning app “KapaflexCy”– which works in a similar way to a Doodle app – they shouldn’t even notice the complexity of the digital networking process. This is because real complexity only takes place in the background of the app, where a rules engine runs calculations on all of the data for the shift planner and then provides him with this data. By using the app, the shift planner can send inquiries about specific shift or flexibility requirements directly to a factory worker’s own smartphone. That person can then respond individually to the requests to work at particular times or coordinate with his colleagues. Finally, the factory worker can submit his response back to the tool and thereby make the information accessible to the shift planner. Thanks to userfriendly systems like this shift-planning app, the complexity of the digital networking process is no longer an issue for our employees.
“Thanks to user-friendly systems like the shift-planning app, the complexity of the digital networking process is no longer an issue for our employees.”
DIALOG: Can you tell us how the KapaflexCy app is changing the work processes in the smart factory?
MB: Our work processes changed enormously almost overnight. Before we introduced the app, we still had a white piece of paper hanging on the wall where each employee entered his own shift details. But it wasn’t possible to reach every employee at a specific time, because not every production worker had their own e-mail address on the shop floor level at that time. This meant that communication about shift planning always went through a central “single point of contact” (SPoC). So, the assignment of working hours to our employees could only be initiated after all information had been centrally processed. If a person therefore got the information early, he was always right at the top of the list, of course. That process has been completely changed. Nowadays, communication takes place with all eligible employees at once – either via their smartphones, private e-mail addresses, or time card. One of the major outcomes of this is the removal of the distinction between work and private life, as the use of this app enables them to be brought together. For example, employees now have the option, not just at work but also in their free time, to flexibly accept or reject requests for overtime shifts – and if necessary even discuss these with their family beforehand.
DIALOG: What best-practice experiences have been gained from using the KapaflexCy app?
MB: For HR management, an Industry 4.0 application represents a major challenge since, with regard to the main objective of bringing more flexibility into the factory, even more factors need to be taken into account such as labor laws and new collective agreements. Only by doing this can we achieve the flexibility in working processes that’s demanded both by the market and by employees themselves in the light of their personal requirements. Our objective is to balance these demands so that an Industry 4.0-oriented flexibility tool like the KapaflexCy app becomes truly successful. That’s why we’ve decided to adopt a system that offers not just the functionality of an app but also that of a terminal. As a result, employees have access to the same functions through either their time card or e-mail address as they do via the app. While there were reservations on the part of individual employees to begin with, these were soon overcome in the context of the overall team. The KapaflexCy app software is basically so self-explanatory that when we started introducing the system there was no need to train up Generation Y employees. They had no problems working through the system themselves. That was also especially due to the fact that most co-workers were already looking forward to the implementation of the tool and were really pleased about the innovation that the company could now offer them.
“With regard to the main objective of bringing more flexibility into the factory, even more factors need to be taken into account.”
BorgWarner Inc. (NYSE: BWA) is a product leader in highly engineered components and systems for powertrains around the world. Operating manufacturing and technical facilities in 74 locations in 19 countries, the company delivers innovative powertrain solutions to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and enhance performance.