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The ageing workforce challenge: Investments in collaborative robots or contribution to pension schemes, from the multi-echelon perspective

David Bogataj, Daria Battini, Martina Calzavara and Alessandro Persona

International Journal of Production Economics, 2019, vol. 210, issue C, 97-106

Abstract: In Europe, the number of people aged 65 or older is about to grow from 85 million today to more than 151 million in 2060, with a decrease of 20 million in the number of workers. To keep the public finances and pension funds sustainable, the retirement age of industrial workers in national pension schemes is rising. However, workers in some specific workplaces are not able to work until they have reached the increased retirement age. Often they are producing fewer products, in some workplaces also with lower quality, and they are causing substantial delays in the multi-echelon system mostly because of response latency. On the other hand, value-added, personalised products/services often demand skilled and experienced older workers, who need better ergonomic support. To solve this problem, companies have two options: (a) to develop new supplementary occupational pension schemes which would compensate the required increase in retirement age or (b) to invest in ergonomic improvements of the working places/processes, to provide a better working environment and reduce the response latency. In this paper, the trade-off between these two options is investigated, by introducing a model based on MRP theory for evaluating the Net Present Value (NPV) of activities and investments of a multi-echelon system. The numerical example related to the production of cars in Italy shows that even varying the cost of labour and the investment in collaborative robots, the model demonstrates that investments in ergonomics in case of ageing workforce increases the total NPV of the multi-echelon system.

Keywords: Human resources; Ergonomics; Early retirement; Occupational pension scheme; MRP theory; Multi-echelon system; Investments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:210:y:2019:i:c:p:97-106