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Innovative work organisation in the food industry

Why this project?

The food industry is an indisputable stronghold in the Belgian industry. Growing export, continual innovations in a broad and high-quality product range and automated production processes provide jobs for college graduates, technicians and low-skilled personnel. The food industry also faces various challenges in the field of labour organisation: 

  • How do you expand your organisation without losing flexibility and customer focus? 
  • How do you ensure employees from all departments (continue to) take initiative? 
  • How do you (despite fluctuations and peak loads) keep production planning working and attract suitable (technical and managerial) personnel? 

The factory of the future requires an agile and flexible organisation that deploys its employees optimally and qualitatively and focuses on their well-being. Well-thought-out and well-founded changes in labour management can lead to noticeable and measurable innovations and improvements. Businesses will be able to produce more efficiently, be more flexible/agile in meeting market demands and opportunities and become more desirable employers. To anticipate this, Flanders’ FOOD, Workitects (previously: Flanders Synergy) and Alimento teamed up for the WIFI2020: workplace innovation for the food industry project. 

Project approach and results

Wifi2020 was a collective research project (type VIS-CO), with the objective of increasing knowledge about innovative labour management in an Industry 4.0 workplace.

This project supported food companies in making well-thought-out choices on how tasks are being defined and assigned, and when filling roles and decision rights within and between departments.

This took place on the one hand through a learning network in which 8 companies were intensively supervised and, on the other, innovation labs in which companies were immersed in the principles of innovative work organisation in 4 sessions and applied them to their concrete situation under supervision.

The project created more awareness of the principles of innovative work organization in the food industry, which will lead to better, more objective and current choices in labour management. This will allow the target group companies to produce more efficiently and be more flexible/agile to better meet market demands and opportunities. In addition, these innovations and improvements will have a positive effect on the workability of the jobs in these companies, resulting in more involved employees with less turnover and sick leave. The companies will become more attractive as employers, vacancies will be filled faster, and more focus can be placed on retaining employees.

The insights and best practice solutions from the project were bundled in a publication 'Flavored together - About organizing labor in food factories of the future'. The publication includes the cases of Delino, Eclair, Remo-Frit, Libeert and Vandemoortele Izegem, who are a showcase for the success of the project and a source of inspiration for other food companies that want to work with the principles of innovative work organisation.

Interested in the results?

The project has ended since 31/03/2021. The book 'Flavoured together - About organising labour in food factories of the future' can be purchased through our webshop. Click the link below, or contact the project manager for more info.

Project partners

Flanders’ FOOD manages and coordinates the project. Responsibility for the execution: 

  • Workitects, under the supervision of Lieven Eeckelaert and Frank De Creacker.
  • Subcontractor Alimento, under the supervision of Lieve Ruelens.