How a custom-built solution is helping a physically impaired employee at BMW to work with ease.
Only too aware that practical experience is what matters most, the BMW Group offers a specially developed training concept dubbed “TaLEnt” (short for “talent-based learning and developing” in German). A key element of this concept starting from the second year of training is the “TalentFactory”, where BMW trainees adopt the approach of small start-ups to develop and produce specific products for internal and external customers. At the vocational training site in Munich, Stefan Ritzmann is responsible for the production department. Known as the “ProdLab”, this is where enquiries sent to the Munich TalentFactory are checked to see whether they (a) are feasible and (b) give trainees an opportunity to develop their skills. Ticking both these boxes was a request for a recliner workstation for a physically impaired staff member, which features a frame built using our aluminum profile technology.
Working at the PC lying down
This demanding project began with a joint request from the disability officer and the Works Council. They were looking for a workstation solution for an employee who has a slight physical impairment that means he can only sit or stand for short periods. “The employee in question can basically only work comfortably and effectively when he’s lying down. We were therefore asked if we could envisage creating a recliner workstation – and we were of course happy to oblige,” says Ritzmann. Having enjoyed a long-standing and trusting collaboration with the company, it was clear from the outset that the workstation’s frame would be built using profile technology from item.
A structure mounted on a Pivot Arm hovers over the middle of the recliner, giving the employee somewhere to rest both lower arms and use the built-in computer keyboard, which enables him to continue his work lying down without any restrictions. Since the workstation is mobile, it’s also very versatile: “It can be used at work and home. On the shopfloor, the employee also has access to a height-adjustable desk where he can work sitting down or standing up,” explains Ritzmann. This recliner workstation is therefore a prime example of just how important it is to observe ergonomic principles and support employees with impairments – as doing so keeps highly skilled workers in the business for years to come. That’s why a second recliner is already in the making.
How a recliner workstation provided a practical lesson
The trainees also benefited from the project, as it gave them the chance to gain valuable practical experience. After we delivered the profiles as a construction kit, they built the recliner workstation all by themselves. Minor tweaks were made to perfect the solution in close collaboration with the employee, which took very little time thanks to the flexibility of the materials. Ritzmann clearly enjoys supervising such projects: “I have had the great pleasure of overseeing the technical training of young people here at the BMW Group since 1999,” he proudly declares. Ritzmann worked in manufacturing before joining the vocational training team at the Munich site, where some 280 motivated youngsters start their technical training each year. All we can say is that we’re excited to discover what other interesting and challenging projects the TalentFactory has in store for the future.