I started my journey at LÄPPLE as a puncturer, before working my way up to become a system operator/supervisor. I really enjoyed the work there, but I wanted more and thought that I could progress even further. I then seized the opportunity and decided to develop myself further. Having already qualified as a technician, I did the advanced training before being offered a position as an assembly line foreman 1, which I was eager to accept. I then took on additional training as an auditor and quality management officer, eventually landing myself a project management position – a job I’ve been doing for three years now.
Project management here is a far cry from your typical office job. You spend maybe 50 or 60 per cent of the time at your desk, but the rest of the time, you’ll be out of office on project work, be it at development meetings, series production lines, customer consultations or on the plant floor. I am responsible for system set-up, quality and output and also for deciding which technologies are used. So I’m often travelling around to different places in order to deal with issues relating to these areas. So it’s definitely not a purely desk-based job.
What excites me about this job is the sheer variety of things to do each day. I’m involved with all areas, from system engineering and the selection and procurement of components, right through to the finished product. I’m really passionate about the whole thing!
A unicell is a kind of manufacturing cell which is used to make several different products. A system always takes up a certain amount of space, but several different products can all be integrated into a single unicell. This is a major advantage of using unicells, because they can be used to manufacture a wide range of product variants.
The great thing about this kind of production system is that it can create premium, next-generation products. Rather than relying on standard technologies to make these products, it uses innovative techniques such as laser beam welding. We also employ laser smoothing technology – which is something brand new. These are surely the technologies of the future.
The car manufacturers of tomorrow will demand innovative technologies such as the laser welding that we are starting to see today. We will eventually move away from conventional, adhesive-based bonding and adopt laser welding, laser beam welding and laser soldering. I firmly believe that’s where technology will take us.
For example, we are the first supplier to use laser beam welding for an aluminium door for our customer BMW, so LÄPPLE AUTOMOTIVE is leading the charge in this movement. That’s definitely something we can be proud of.
We work very closely with FIBRO. For example, they supply us with the turntables we use for each of our projects. We then hold discussions with our various staff groupings and, after that, these components are actually installed in our systems.
This system of collaboration works very well. Our colleagues from Heilbronn and Teublitz get along very well. Of course, there can be language complications from time to time, which is understandable because the dialects we speak are a little different. But in the end we’ll always find some common ground on which to communicate.
There’s a trend nowadays where niche products come from OEMs, and these are niche products the OEMs can’t manufacture themselves due to the low production quantities. As a result, these low-volume production jobs are outsourced. That’s where we see opportunities to grow our order books.