Krone is increasingly working with automated production. This process has far-reaching consequences throughout all areas of the company.
To what extent are Krone’s production processes already automated? Krone currently manufactures its components using either fully or semi-automated processes. This ensures greater process stability and efficiency, which leads to consistent quality of our vehicles and reliability of our products and delivery services. Automation has long been an interest of ours, even as early as 2004 as we constructed our cool storage production facility in Lübtheen. We developed robotics and conveyor technology for this purpose and networked the site machinery, creating a real “Industry 4.0” facility. This automation process is being developed and rolled out to all of our sites.
Is it true that there are certain requirements that must be considered during the automation process? Automation is a highly complex process which has farreaching consequences across all levels of our company. It requires careful coordination of the interfaces, presenting a challenge for all those involved. In the past, manual operations were what shaped our production processes. If robots take over these jobs in future, all of these processes will need to be precisely interwoven – from development right up until the vehicle is handed over.
ABOUT THE PERSON
Jens Ficker was born in 1973, joined Brüggen in 1991 and worked in the logistics and production departments of the company, while studying administration. Today he is Managing Director of Brüggen Oberflächen- und Systemlieferant GmbH and since 2016 he has been a member of the management board of the vehicle plant and in charge of production at the Krone Nutzfahrzeug Group.
How are you involving your employees in this process? Demographic changes are making it increasingly difficult to find skilled workers. Automation partially solves this issue as it means we will generally require fewer employees. However, these changes bring new challenges: Our employees will need to become even more specialised. We draw on the skills of staffing experts early on in order to find the most qualified skilled workers.
What potential do you see in automation for Krone and the industry as a whole? Our customers are predominantly from within the logistics industry. Just as we are, they are required to connect objects, people and systems. This is the only way we can create company-wide, added-value networks which function dynamically, independently and in real time. We are working together closely within the Group and are introducing universal standards for production and logistics processes. In doing so, we take the individual needs of each specific site into consideration. In this regard, we are still hard at work – further investment is expected.