GKN Powder Metallurgy adopts Workerbase platform to manage workflow

May 26, 2021

Operators get work assignments regarding required measurements on their smartwatchs (Courtesy GKN Powder Metallurgy/Workerbase GmbH)

GKN Powder Metallurgy is aiming to increase its operational flexibility and worker productivity using the Workerbase platform, a digital management system from Workerbase GmbH, Munich, Germany. Workerbase states that more than 80% of all GKN Powder Metallurgy’s manual work processes are now managed using the platform, enabling the dynamic scheduling and execution of work orders. Operators can receive order assignments on mobile devices, can collect data, and issue process updates to existing line-of-business applications (such as MES) in real-time.

The production of precision powder metal parts requires different manufacturing processes: metal powders are mixed and transported to forming stations where high-pressure forming is used to bind the powder particles. After a heat treatment, the now-solid parts get transferred into post-processing. Availability of skilled workers is a key challenge for most of these operations.

Another challenge is the requirement of a more agile and flexible operating model, stemming from both general technological trends and customer- specific requirements. This necessitates the move from a reactive to a predictive approach.

GKN Powder Metallurgy has implemented over ten different digital manufacturing apps using the Workerbase platform, some of which are in production use for efficient operations.

Some examples include:

  • Machine interruptions: Operators receive real-time alerts on their smartwatches in case of unplanned machine stops
  • Quality measurements: Operators get work assignments regarding required measurements on the smartwatch
  • Trolley change: Right before unloading stations reach the trolley’s capacity, trolley change is scheduled automatically using the mobile device of the operator.

As a result, GKN is hoping to transform the way human work is scheduled and coordinated. Skills can be leveraged, with workers being allocated based on knowledge and availability. Workers are also able to self-train at new skills on the job.

“Workerbase makes the whole shopfloor more dynamic, more agile,” stated Paul Mairl, CDO. “We are much quicker in reacting to the ups and downs every production has. What we do is giving the right information at the right point of time to the right people so that they can make a real-time decision. That really keeps problems small, because operators can take immediate decisions. And this consequently adds value to the whole process and has a huge impact on our business.”

As with all digitisation initiatives, it is key to focus on the business impact, otherwise the risk of ‘pilot purgatory’ is high. In the case of GKN, a clear vision and a phased approach have been criteria to help Workerbase advance beyond the pilot phase.

Mairl added, “We derived our concept for the activity driven shopfloor from strategic business goals. We wanted to move away from a role based organization, from the hierarchies we have in the shop floor towards an agile shop floor which allows the employees to work more flexible. We have been looking for a solution which allows us to implement the concept in short time. With Workerbase, we found such a solution.”



In the latest issue of PM Review…

Download PDF

Extensive Powder Metallurgy industry news coverage, and the following exclusive deep-dive articles and reports:

  • “Scrap is the new gold” and other hardmetal and hard materials insights from Euro PM2023 Congress, Lisbon
  • IperionX: A Powder Metallurgy route to lower-cost recycled titanium plate, billet, bar and preforms with reduced CO2 emissions
  • A review of the sintering of iron-copper-carbon alloys for structural Powder Metallurgy applications

The latest news from the world of metal powders, delivered to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of PM Review, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Join our community

Discover our magazine archive…

The free-to-access PM Review magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of Powder Metallurgy from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading PM part manufacturers, metal powder manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.


Browse the archive


Looking for PM production equipment, metal powders, R&D support and more?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our
advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of PM Review magazine.

  • Powders & materials
  • Powder process, classification & analysis
  • PM products
  • Atomisers & powder production technology
  • Compaction presses, tooling & ancillaries
  • Sintering equipment & ancillaries
  • Post-processing
  • Consulting & toll sintering
View online
Share via
Copy link