Demographic change as an opportunity: Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in production

Demographic change as an opportunity: Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in production

Oct 22, 2015
Bremen
  • Strategic restructuring of the production organisation promotes cooperation between different generations
  • 'EY ALTER' exhibition as part of the demographics initiative Y.E.S. (Young + Experienced = Succesful) – grand opening at the Universum®Bremen with collaboration partners and guests from politics, business and science
  • Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Procurement: "We promote a corporate culture that sees demographic change as an opportunity. That's why we are reinventing work in production."
  • Michael Brecht, Chairman of the General Works Council at Daimler AG: "We want all of our employees to be able to work with us in good health until retirement, and for the many generations at Daimler to benefit from each other."
  • Heino Niederhausen, Head of HR at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen: "Within the demographic change we have the chance to reconsider things and deal with them in a different way. We should overcome the traditional mindset in categories such as 'old' and 'young'."
Mercedes-Benz is launching a cross-site initiative that promotes the successful cooperation between young and experienced employees in the production organisation. "We promote a corporate culture that sees demographic change as an opportunity. That's why we are reinventing work in production. This is an important step in the strategic realignment of the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The human being is the key factor for success in our high performance organisation," said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Procurement.
Michael Brecht, Chairman of the General Works Council at Daimler AG: "We want all of our employees to be able to work with us in good health until retirement and for the many generations at Daimler to benefit from each other. After all, it's clear that measures like improving ergonomics, qualifications based on various stages in life and specific needs, and a proactive HR development and promotion of health are more important than ever. Younger people benefit here as much as more experienced employees."
Consistent demographic standards for all plants
A variety of generations also means a variety of experiences, persepectives and new ideas. The demographics initiative entitled 'Y.E.S. – Young, Experienced, together Successful' aims to promote collaboration between young and experienced employees in the passenger car production organisation of Mercedes-Benz and, for the first time, to create consistent standards for all plants throughout Germany. A cross-site project team has been set up to assume responsibility for its implementation. The initiative arranges new ideas which are based on the fundamental agreements on generation management signed by both Daimler AG and the general works council in September 2015.
The official starting point for the Y.E.S. initiative was the opening of the 'EY ALTER' demographics exhibition, which took place yesterday, on October 22, in Bremen with guests from politics, business and science. This public exhibition presents the opportunities of demographic change in a creative way. Designed by the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen in collaboration with organiser Universum®Bremen and scientific partner Jacobs University, it is also supported by the IG Metall and Nordmetall unions. Consisting of four themed areas, the visitor learns what determines the way we think about old and young, how multifaceted our own age is, where people's individual potential lies and how this can be fulfilled in teams that include a number of different generations.
Heino Niederhausen, Head of HR at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen: "Within the demographic change we have the chance to reconsider things and deal with them in a different way. We should overcome the traditional mindset in categories such as 'old' and 'young' and take the opportunity to redefine and to create actively the future and our attitude towards age.”
In line with the demographic trend in Germany, the average age at the German production sites of Mercedes-Benz Cars is set to increase considerably over the coming years. These sites are part of our global production network and substantial investments will go into modernising and extending them in the medium term. At the same time, automation levels will be cut back to achieve greater flexibility in production. As a consequence of an ageing workforce, the focus will be on creating a completely new type of work organisation with cross-generation collaboration in a modern production environment.
The company already offers a number of services for promoting the health of its employees, such as mobile gyms. Reducing the strain on employees through continuous ergonomic optimisation of the workplace also plays a key role at the individual plants.
Implementation in three modules
Y.E.S. provides answers to the demographic challenges in the form of three modules:The first module is a scientifically-supported programme in which managers are made more aware of the need to promote successful collaboration in mixed-age teams. The aim is to maintain motivation levels high and to fully use the performance potential of all employees and, thereby, to ensure the established high quality of Mercedes-Benz. One real-life example is the intergenerational qualification that is already part of everyday life at the plant Bremen. Young school leavers train side by side with experienced employees. The heterogeneous composition of the learning group derives synergies from the individual strengths and brings the generations closer together.
The second module is called the demographic-mirror. It is used as a standardised measuring and control device for creating transparency about the current situation at Mercedes-Benz Cars sites with regard to the age structure and demographic-related measures. Based on these results, specific initiatives are being developed and implemented actively in the field of qualification and health management, for instance, by the company, the works council, and the employees.Therefore, demographic guides will be introduced to offer support and advice for the planning and implementation of measures in production.
As the third module and public platform serves the interactive exhibition 'EY ALTER – you get to know yourself' which aims at a change in awareness regarding to the subject 'age'. The exhibition is not only for employees, but also for the public giving new ideas about age, daily life and workplace. Apart from the partner Universum®Bremen and Jacobs University, the IG Metall district Coast and Nordmetall support the exhibition. Furthermore, a range of institutions from science and economy as well as employees' and employers' associations join as network partners. The exhibition runs from October 23, 2015 to August, 31 2016 at Universum®Bremen. Admission is €16 for adults (€11 for concessions, €40 for families), which includes both the special show and the permanent exhibition at Universum®Bremen.
About Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations
Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for passenger car production at 26 locations around the world as part of a flexible and efficient production network involving more than 70,000 employees. This includes the central functions of planning, Technology Fabric, logistics, and quality management. Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than 1,754,000 Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars last year, marking the fourth record in a row.
The network is based on the product architectures of front-wheel drive (compact cars) and rear-wheel drive (for example the S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class) as well as the SUV and sports car architectures. In addition, there is a powertrain production network (engines, transmissions, axles, and components). Each of these production networks is grouped around a lead plant that serves as a center of competence for the ramp-up of new products, technology, and quality assurance.
The focus of day-to-day work is on the continuous improvement and refinement of state-of-the-art production methods, which allow future high-tech vehicles to be produced in a way that is efficient, flexible, and environmentally friendly, according to the typical Mercedes-Benz quality standards. All of this revolves around the employees and their expertise, whose work is systematically supported by ergonomic workplace design and intelligent automation. In addition to its own production plants, Mercedes-Benz is increasingly leveraging partnerships and utilizing capacities at contract manufacturers as part of its growth strategy.
Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in the production: Opening of the exhibition EY ALTER at Universum®Bremen with (from right to left): Markus Schäfer (Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Procurement), Martin Günthner (Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports of the Free Hanseatic State of Bremen), Andreas Kellermann (Head of production network for rear-wheel drive cars at Mercedes-Benz Cars), Heino Niederhausen (Head of HR Mercedes-Benz plant Bremen), Dr. Herbert Münder (Managing director Universum®Bremen) and Prof. Dr. Sven Voelpel (Jacobs University Bremen).
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Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in the production: Opening of the exhibition EY ALTER at Universum®Bremen.
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Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in the production: Opening of the exhibition EY ALTER at Universum®Bremen.
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Mercedes-Benz launches demographics initiative in the production: Opening of the exhibition EY ALTER at Universum®Bremen.
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