BMW's New Plant Built With Aging Workforce in Mind

Life isn't easy for older car assembly line workers who are on their feet for hours each day. BMW's solution: segregate the older workers in a special factory built for their needs.

A new BMW factory in Dingolfing, is one result of Germany's low birthrate and lack of younger skilled workers. The plant, nicknamed Altstadt ("Old town" in German) is a fiftysomething factory worker's dream: better lighting, mobile tool carts, ergonomic back supports for workers who spend all day turning monkey wrenches, stools to sit on, and a greater variety of robots to perform menial tasks. Perhap most helpfully, the plant also includes a production line that has been slowed to a third of its normal speed, according to the UK Daily Mail.

The 200-person factory was designed by automotive engineers and industrial architects, with a little help from physical therapists and doctors. This isn't a one-off design for BMW, either. The automaker plans to expand the Old Town model to 4,000 workers in different factory locations. 

It makes sense—the ratio of over-50 BMW workers will rise from 25% now to 45% in the next decade. But wouldn't it make more sense to implement some of these changes in all factories to prevent injuries and future problems?

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  • michael rolph

    Super-smart capital investment, and one that builds goodwill (and international press mentions) to boot. Why not implement across all factories now? My guess is that it's expensive, and that they want to start with a prototype and refine evolve the concept. Bo BMW go.