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?