The tough competition in the global market between European industries and those from the Far East makes it evidently necessary to reorganise production structures in Europe. Increasing labour and production costs accompanied by decreasing motivation of shopfloor workers due to lower responsibility in the overall production cycle has led to a strong decline in efficiency. Inflated management structures in typically hierarchically organised industries add fixed costs which are normally not leading to an increase in productivity.
Several European industries have realised the mentioned problems and now switched over to a new way of thinking: 'Turning production hierarchy UPSIDE down!'.
The trend is to turn the production 'lines' into production 'cells' in a distributed production environment, handling stand-alone 'jobs' on a common 'market place', leaving as much responsibility as possible to the shop-floor people and thereby conveying the idea of competitive cooperation to the workers on the shop-floor. The shop-floor people will be directly involved in several decision making processes within the company, work planning is done internally, best 'prices' for work tasks (i.e. added value to the product) can be calculated in respect to the 'cost' (i.e. time, schedules, material prices), input and output as well as quality can be clearly measured and will be visible in the final products.
This concept has proven to be effective, and the number of companies following this new idea and trying to apply it to their own production, is multiplying.
Three highly innovative European companies have started the development of a generic architecture for supporting management of distributed production environments, providing the necessary support functions for responsible decision making to shop-floor people as well as providing excellent facilities for managing their internal work and coping with the behaviour of machines and processes.
Prototype installations will directly target the markets of small-batch or one-of-a-kind manufacturing houses. The involved end-user, Odense Steel Shipyard, will be provided with the necessary equipment and tools by two technology suppliers/developers, experienced in multimedia information technology and user interfacing. The impact on human resources, motivation and social effects will be evaluated in close cooperation not only with the company's internal institutions but also with trade unions from Denmark and Germany. Workshops within the lifetime of the project will enable external experts as well as interested companies to participate actively in the dissemination and use of results.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts