One cog engages the next


Automotive supplier ZF is one of the world’s leading technology groups in the fields of driveline and chassis technology as well as active and passive safety technology. Around 153,000 employees are spread across more than 260 sites in 42 countries.

One of these locations: ZF Getriebe Brandenburg GmbH. This branch of the company belongs to the Electrified Powertrain Technology division. More than 1,500 employees are engaged here in the development and production of manual and dual-clutch passenger car transmissions. As part of restructuring existing processes, the company implemented a comprehensive Shop Floor Management project together with Staufen AG.

Order processing and assembly were again significantly improved thanks to Shop Floor Management (SFM). Most importantly, for ZF, SFM is not a self-contained project but is understood as a holistic and continuous process. Plant Manager Sebastian Schmitt: “For us, Shop Floor Management means analyzing and optimizing our processes in daily routines.” To do this, the company involves all hierarchical levels of the plant and works in interdisciplinary teams.

The Brandenburg plant will remain embedded in the global ZF network. Christoph Wannemacher, Head of ZF Production System Electrified Powertrain Technology, sees standardization as a strength. At the same time, transparency in the production process provides an overview of what belongs to deviation management and which activities are to be assigned to planning and control. By doing so, precise targets can be achieved: “When defining key performance indicators, we start with higher-level targets such as customer supply, employee motivation, quality or costs. Based on this, we define key figures for each level.” The production expert has identified an “especially positive development in Brandenburg” with regards to Shop Floor Management.

Picture: ZF
Picture: ZF

As SFM Project Manager at the Brandenburg site, Frank Lorenz, Head of Assembly and Test Field, managed the project implementation and relied on a digital environment instead of analog aids from the onset: “The digital solution allows us to directly integrate process data from the machine, form a key figure from it and monitor it regularly – and initiate corrective measures accordingly.”

This enabled ZF to establish an efficient and dynamic process chain in which escalations are quickly processed and resolved. Digital support also proved its worth throughout the pandemic, as measures could be archived and a knowledge database developed. Furthermore, decentralized file storage allowed employees to work from external workstations.

From Staufen AG, Remco Peters, Partner at Staufen, supported and advised the company. The expert and book author on the topic of Shop Floor Management examined the existing processes, identified potential for improvement in the workflows, and also addressed the important topic of leadership: “SFM is essentially about developing and empowering the team as a mentor. Leadership means making decisions. The goal of empowerment is to establish decision-making abilities at the base as much as possible.” Doing so, he says, takes the burden off the organization. Staufen consultant Peters sees the positive effect in an overall increase in effectiveness: “You take the pressure off your organization. Then there are only a few top issues left to escalate. This will make you more agile – day after day and shift after shift on the production floor.”

Would you like to learn more about how ZF implements Shop Floor Management and what experience the Brandenburg site has gained? In the following video, the responsible ZF and Staufen experts present the project in detail.

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