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GRANULATS RHONE-ALPES: the experience of extraction to serve the company

Because of the “papy boom” (French name given to numerous retirements taking place between 2006 and 2025), many experienced workers have left the quarries company, Granulats Rhône-Alpes. Thus, the company has created a new extraction team with the last ageing workers in charge of transferring their expertise to new workers.


Branch of industry : Construction sector

Activity : Extraction, transformation and commercialisation of aggregates

Workforce : 70 employees

French region : Rhône-Alpes

In Rhône-Alpes, five “Granulats Rhône-Alpes” plants are dedicated to the extraction of river stones destined to the production of concrete and to the construction sector. Work is done under difficult conditions since the extraction takes place outside, in lake or river. In 2004, this regional entity from the Group Vicat faced an important number of retirements, many workers benefiting from measures for retirements before 60. “Within a three-year period, 80% of extraction workers have changed”, reports Olivier Estèbe, regional manager of Granulats Rhône-Alpes.

Working on the “non-written”

It was important to react quickly. This job, for which there is no training, lies above all on the acquired expertise. The effects of the big turnover that followed the departure of experienced workers were some noteworthy operating loss and an increase of work accidents. The proposal made by Forcemat (Vocational training fund collection agency) was to take an action on "transferring experiential knowledge" (Transfert des savoir-faire par l’expérience-TSE). It immediately appealed to the company. “Thanks to this methodology, we can work on experience and on the “non-written”, which is a characteristics of our trade, says Olivier Estèbe. Some experienced workers were still within the company to participate to the transfer.”

Three persons have played this role: a 61-year old worker with 35 years of experience, a 41-year old worker with 25 years of experience and a young plant manager who already had some expertise. Six new workers played the role of the “transferred”.

The first step consisted in asking an apparently simple question: “What does our job consist of? ”. For the first time, the various positions were defined, and in particular, the distinction between “extraction foreman” and “extraction manager”. Then, the group studied the necessary expertises such as machines adjustment, tricks to work in complete safety or means to give some information in a noisy environment. A training period followed.

An intergenerational group spirit

“I wanted to create a group spirit because we all are in the same boat, both literally and figuratively, and that is something that "transferring experiential knowledge” helped to accomplish, adds Olivier Estèbe. Today, everything is in position and there is no turnover anymore.” For him, this strategy enabled workers to better apprehend the change caused by the purchase of a new extraction machine. A best communication, instituted via a logbook, gives the opportunity to acquire a real group expertise more transferable than an individual expertise. Granulats Rhône-Alpes also benefits from the expertise of retired workers. The company temporally employs former quarry and site managers. However, one of the retired workers was not able to come back, his driving license for heavy vehicles being expired.

The methodology for “transferring experiential knowledge”

The strategy proposed by FORCEMAT lies on a methodology of transfer of experience with defined parameters. It comes into the following stages:

  • Diagnosis of opportunity
  • Identification of critical experiential knowledge
  • Training courses for “transferring” persons and mobilization of beneficiary persons
  • Transfer implementation and experiences assessment
  • Formalization of good practices

The transfer action at Granulats Rhône-Alpes necessitated 350 hours.