The Future of Manufacturing Engineering The Results of the FEMTEC Innovation Workshop

Inessa Agapova has worked at Daimler’s factory planning unit in Sindelfingen since April 2016. At the unit, she is responsible for supporting the development of the production location in Beijing, China. In addition to doing her normal work, she also helped to organize the Innovation Workshop in recent months. The workshop is a collaborative project between Daimler AG and FEMTEC. Because Agapova herself took part in the development program, she not only understands the scholarship recipients’ enthusiasm, but also believes in the multifaceted potential of talented young female employees.

More than six months ago, my colleagues and I organized a kickoff event in Berlin. Back then, we had no idea where we would be headed. The event came about thanks to a partnership between Daimler AG and FEMTEC, which is a career platform for women in engineering and the natural sciences. The focus was particularly on the Innovation Workshop module in which a partner company sets a task that is then carried out by the current group of workshop participants over a period of several months.

As a result, Daimler, which has partnered with FEMTEC for many years, also offered such an Innovation Workshop. We came from a variety of specialist units to provide the students with support. Oli and Philip came from the assembly planning unit, Vesna came from HR, Tom from the TecFabrik, and Inessa and I from the factory planning unit.

We decided to focus on the use of Daimler Plant View to present the future of manufacturing engineering. Daimler Plant View, which acts like a Street View for interiors, is already enabling us to take virtual tours of our offices and production halls. However, we knew from the start that it harbored additional potential. That’s why we needed fresh, new, creative ideas.

The big day

The long-awaited day finally arrived in February, when we held the concluding presentation of the Innovation Workshop. Following a fascinating key note speech by Markus Schäfer, member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, who provided the participants with insights into the innovations and challenges of Mercedes-Benz Cars Production, the women students began to make their pitches. The individual groups developed an impressive range of ideas, and the teams’ diversity and creativity were especially remarkable. In addition to presenting new approaches to assembly and factory planning, the teams also pitched ideas for prototypes, particularly in the area of HR.

Benz-o-Mat

One of these HR concepts is called Benz-o-Mat. The idea is to use Daimler Plant View at the Daimler career website in order to show trainees their future workplaces. Moreover, the applicants are asked targeted questions so that they can be provided with a recommendation regarding the trainee position that is best suited for them. Applicants can take virtual tours of the various stations that they can expect to work at during their training.

PlanConnect

Another idea that was presented was for an innovative, improved process for regulating the way Daimler awards contracts to its suppliers. Called PlanConnect, this concept supports the calls for bids by linking the specifications with the hall’s digital twin. The advantages are obvious, because the idea provides suppliers with a detailed basis for making plans and repeated onsite visits are no longer needed. The concept is made possible by restricting the suppliers’ access rights so that they can only see the parts of the hall that are relevant for them. It enables them to measure the area in question and access the integrated points of interest (news, images, videos).

This concept was voted the best idea at the workshop, because it can be implemented quickly and without much effort.

Conclusion

We’re delighted that the Innovation Workshop was such a huge success. We are, of course, continuing to pursue the participants’ ideas and will determine how they can be quickly implemented. We will also stay in touch with the students and hope that we will be able to welcome some of them as coworkers in the future!

All in all, we had a great time. It enabled me to gain many new insights into areas outside those of my daily work and I’ve really grown close to my project team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vesna, Philip, and Oli in particular. It goes without saying that we would gladly take part in an Innovation Workshop again.”

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