After being diagnosed with colon cancer, Mike Butler was fascinated by the process through which patients were treated and saw an opportunity to introduce practices from the car manufacturing facility, where he works, so that the cancer treatment might run more smoothly.
Working together with his colleagues at the Ford assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, quality director Butler and the team researched and proposed changes that are now being implemented as part of what is expected to become Europe’s biggest dedicated cancer unit.
And this has since developed into a two-way flow of ideas, as hospital staff at the renowned Centre for Integrated Oncology (CIO) at the University of Cologne, one of the leading cancer centres in Germany, are bringing their experience of working with big data to help Ford research into future vehicles.
It was back in 2008 that medical staff were first shown the advanced technologies and efficient processes that have enabled the Ford Fiesta Cologne factory to become one of the world’s most efficient vehicle production plants. A team of 10 to 15 Ford engineers met with hospital administrators as well as patients, nurses, doctors, and the collaboration blossomed from there.
Designed to ensure treatment is less stressful and faster, coloured lines on walls and floors make it easier for staff, patients and visitors to find their way around, while large screens help make communication between key medical employees easier. The team also proposed flexible rooms with removable dividers rather than rigid wards and fixed nursing stations. At the existing facility, all of this has already contributed to a 30 percent improvement in patient flow.
Meanwhile, the medical teams at the hospital are advising Ford on the processes they use to conceive and develop completely different approaches to tackling cancer. The company is now applying this “outside the box” thinking in relation to future vehicles and new technologies.
See how Ford factory workers buddy up with robots in the Cologne plant.