Economically efficient and equally humane
The isolated improvement of singular areas is not enough. The whole system has to be reviewed and optimised in context. The workforce with all its needs cannot be neglected in this process – one reason more to use REFA tools. The holistic view as well as the equally important view to a humane and economically efficient production are key features of the REFA methods. Thus, ergonomical principals are taken into account when designing work places. Paragon’s employees in Delbrück for example can adjust the work equipment to suit their bodies using height-adjustable worktables. In order to protect their backs special equipment was purchased to lift heavy loads.
Unnecessary waiting times, too long transport routes and over production are widespread problems in production. By using the method „seven types of waste“ REFA sensitises all those responsible to create the conditions for lean processes. Only when these weak points are eliminated can new digitisation measures take full effect. As another element to be mentioned from the REFA theory in this context, is the work system design with the 5S method – Sorting, setting and set-up, cleanliness, standardisation and self-discipline. Tidiness and cleanliness are always the first step to process improvements. Further effective measures on the way to lean production are the REFA methods to minimise set-up times and error avoidance.
Use of technology and digitisation
Is production still characterised by manual assembly, the increase in quantities demands a transition to automation. Digital worker assistance systems are used already, as some of the parts are extremely difficult to assemble due to their delicate nature. At the start of the work process, the employee looks onto a projection screen at his work place. A beamer shows in simple sentences and symbols key points to consider while assembling. In addition, individual areas can be marked on the work piece using light spots. An integrated multi sensor camera makes sure that assembly mistakes are recognised by the system.
If everything is correct, the system confirms by giving an OK symbol. Mistakes are entirely eliminated due to this support.
Involving employees while change is taking place
In change management, processes with organisational and technical changes the perspective of the employees must always be taken into account. For the acceptance of new technologies by the entire workforce, the right communication is crucial. It is important to cautiously introduce the employees to innovations by making the new technology accessible to everyone. This reduces the fear to be overwhelmed by new technology.
The managerial staff of Paragon AG is positive that the work processes will be simplified due to the application if REFA principal and the use of new technologies. With this combination, the company is well equipped to „rev up“ – just as it is expected of an automotive supplier.