In 2007, the luxury automaker set up an experimental assembly line with older employees to see whether they could keep pace. The production line in Dingolfing, 80km northeast of BMW’s Munich base, features hoists to spare ageing backs, adjustable-height work benches, and wooden floors instead of rubber to help hips swivel during repetitive tasks.
The verdict: Not only could they keep up, the older workers did a better job than younger staffers on another line at the same factory.
This is a great story about a problem faced by German motoring manufacturers. What to do about an ageing workforce (and a potential skills shortage?). Audi and BMW have both had success is redesigning the factory line to accommodate workers with innovations from harnesses to support backs and hips to screens with larger fonts. Older workers are also being paired with younger colleagues to transfer implicit knowledge. Service industries: take note.