Published on May 20th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Audi tries out new lounges for the factory floor
In the pursuit of production efficiency, a lot of companies tend to invest in complex processes and new robotics, throwing money at a problem of speed and efficiency. But at the end of the day, the most important component is the factory worker on the factory floor, and in days of old these workers were often marginalised and ignored. Only certain companies like Toyota were more sympathetic towards their workers, but more for quality control reasons than anything else.
Perhaps it’s the culture of companies like Google and Says and Groupon that has slowly started filtering across to other industries. The idea that employee comfort is becoming a higher priority for a company has resulted in things like open office plans and recreational activities, although these things are usually employed with varying degrees of success.
With mass production systems maturing and developing to be more automated, perhaps this change comes at a welcome time. The people on the factory floor are less involved in manual labour, and more involved in monitoring machinery and ensuring the cars are assembled smoothly and without defect. With these more technical, complex job tasks, it would also be more appropriate to have a classier form of lounge and group corners (whatever that is).
In conjunction with the Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences, Audi has started to implement redesigned lounges and group corners in their Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm production facilities. These new redesigned areas are aimed at improving how employees take their breaks, being closer to the production line and reducing downtime. The units are built to be modular and flexible, allowing for multiple configurations with multiple components and materials.
The romantic idea of blue collar workers heading out of the factory for lunch as a group is something of the past- nowadays, workers in production facilities operate in small units, being specialised and efficient. Cohesiveness is key, and perhaps Audi may be on to something here.