Manufacturing workplace innovation

Manufacturing Workplace Innovation

As a manufacturing company, can you increase productivity and customer focus? Can you shorten throughput and delivery times, and at the same time ensure more job satisfaction and commitment among employees? Yes you can, by organising and digitising work differently or smarter. The bureaucratic form of work - where work is cut up into small parts and where people are dependent on decisions made by other departments and managers - must give way to more innovative forms of organisation.

With this in mind, FlandersMake@UGent, together with the expertise centre Workitects, set off with a number of Flemish manufacturing companies: Bekintex, Daikin, Hansen Industrial Transmissions, Metaalconstructie Vanderscheuren, Niko, Scandinavian Tobacco Group and voestalpine Sadef. The aim was to guide these companies in redesigning and developing their work organisations, learning from their change processes and implemented interventions.

From the various trajectories, a number of data-driven tools were further developed and tested:

  • Information flow mapping: method of mapping the flow of information along the value stream and indicating where data is created, where it is stored and who will use it.
  • Teamontwerp: approach to design and assemble (production) teams from the Workitects-organisational canvas - from the assignment of teams at organisational level (macrostructure) to the division of work and roles at team level (microstructure).
  • Team-KPI’s: insights to choose the right 'key performance indicators' for a production team to drive results.
  • Workability measurement: Further development of the online employee survey Workmeter, to map work experience and job characteristics in terms of knowledge, information and planning.

The insights from the project were translated into the publication 'Data-driven organising. Inspirational guide for designing and supporting production teams'. This guide provides business leaders, managers, HR and production managers and other executives from manufacturing companies with insights, methodologies and practical examples to increase the employability of their organisation. Workitects and FlandersMake@UGent focus on identifying and using relevant data to reorganise production teams and better support them in their functioning and development.

Case: Bekintex works better

Bekintex produces metal fibre yarns and high-tech textiles based on these metal fibres. These are used, among other things, in electrically conductive and heat-resistant textiles. The company is part of the Bekaert Group.

In 2018, Bekintex chose to innovate its work organisation. Multi-disciplinary teams were formed. Within the project, the focus went to one of those teams - the 'burners'. The production process, information flows and jobs were scrutinised in order to introduce the right team KPIs and team roles. The next step was the digitisation of information flows. A successful step that resulted in virtually no paper being used on the shop floor at the moment and the team leader having the right data immediately.

The burner team now works in a more results-oriented and autonomous way, which is clearly bearing fruit. Productivity increased by 23% and quality also improved significantly. The average work satisfaction and commitment of the employees was already high and remained at the same level. 



Download here

Want to know more about the insights from this project? Then fill in the form below and download the full inspiration guide here (Dutch only).

Thanks to following project partners

Universiteit Gent
Flanders Make
Lieven Eeckelaert, Senior Consultant

Lieven Eeckelaert is senior consultant in de innovatieve arbeidsorganisatie. Bij het expertisecentrum Workitects richt hij zich vooral op de link tussen werkorganisatie, teamontwerp en -ontwikkeling, en individuele werkbaarheid. Hij is auteur van het boek 'Samen op smaak gebracht - Over het organiseren van werk in voedingsfabrieken van de toekomst'.