This case provides examples of:
- how changing long established operations is extremely difficult to implement with a workforce rooted in a long tradition. But by charging students, who had assisted in all departments, communicating with the long-time employees and tested new procedures in pilot projects, the company may successfully combine existing know-how from workforce, and high motivation and fresh theoretical knowledge by eager students. Students are eager because they can directly see the importance of their contributions to solve real problems
|Brewery Göss – Using apprenticeships to boost innovation
Göss brewery (Göss) was founded in 1860 inside the small monastery Göss in Leoben, Styria, and employs 150 people today. After a history of various owners, it now belongs to Heineken International since 2003. This means that on one hand Göss is a traditional SME (small and locally recruited workforce) and on the other hand needs to prove a unique selling proposition to claim some own legitimacy inside the big group. Göss acts today as a forerunner role model within the Heineken group on the path towards a “Green Brewery” aiming at “Zero Emission” and “CO2-Free Brewing”. Göss aimed to become an innovation center for the Heineken group concerning new technologies (e.g. closed cycle production, CO2-neutral energy supply, cleaning in place) and organisational procedures (e.g. Total Quality Management, cleaner production and environmental management, total productive maintenance).
All these measures today profit considerably from available contribution by eager students to analyse data and perform experiments which the normal staff cannot accomplish while busy with ongoing operations. The company invested in a clearly structured apprenticeship programme for students, established together with the Institute for “Sustainable Food Management“ of a local University of Applied Science. Students typically start their apprenticeship after the first year of their bachelor programme with four internships of three months each. A typical apprenticeship includes rotating through all work stations in the production area, starting with cleaning jobs and ending in sales, taking part in small task forces to work on everyday problem solving and ending up with responsibility for one of them, and finally working on an important strategic issue for the company combining theory, practical tasks and measurements. The company until now has recruited, educated, and mentored about 20 students over the years, several of them still working in the corporate network.
“Green“ process changes deploy a high workload of measurements, infrastructure mapping and technology evaluation. All of these profit from the student´s time budget and from direct access to university knowledge. Göss has installed a 1.500 m2 thermal solar system to prove the applicability and to set a standard for breweries in developing countries with sufficient solar radiation. One former graduate has been active in the meantime in starting and managing breweries in Africa and Central America for the Heineken group