I have been giving tours of our MANN+HUMMEL plant in Marklkofen for almost 15 years. After such a long time, it would be easy to assume that this has become a routine task that I could do in my sleep – every day the same old route and the same old spiel.
That may be the case in a museum, but not here!
Different visitors – different tours
In fact, plant tours are a very exciting and diverse activity.
On every tour, I get to know people who have come from all over the world to view our plant. I meet people of different ages, nationalities and fields – laypersons to specialists, employees to managing directors, students to professors, I’ve guided them all.
No two tours are the same; they couldn’t possibly be identical. Mentalities, previous knowledge, interests and expectations of such a tour vary from visitor to visitor. Some ask lots of questions, wanting to know and see more and more. Others are interested in specific areas that are of very little importance to the next visitor. Some visitors simply want a quick look around the whole plant, while others receive intensive and detailed insights. Although I know our plant inside out, each tour presents me with exciting new challenges. Naturally, I can’t answer every question. Luckily, we almost always come across production staff who are happy to help.
Flexibility and spontaneity, not routine
I therefore take very different routes depending on visitors’ priorities. These may change several times during the tour, as many aspects only becoming interesting to visitors as the tour progresses.
Time can dictate the route too. After all, our premises span 200,000 square metres – an impossible distance to cover in one tour. Some people have just an hour, others three or even longer. Depending on the time of day, shifts might be changing or staff might be taking a break, in which case we have to come back to that area. So spontaneity is always required – there should always be a plan B up your sleeve. Equally, you need to maintain an overview: tour guides must know all the processes and be up-to-date with current events.
What’s more, tours for our international visitors are, of course, given in English. For a German native speaker such as myself, this is an extra challenge, particularly when I have visitors whose English isn’t very good. But here too, I often receive help on the spur of the moment: some production employees are migrants, and will happily join the tour if they hear participants speaking their mother tongue. This is always a wonderful surprise for the guests and a huge help for me. It is great to see interested visitors talking with our employees.
Safety always comes first
Naturally, occupational safety is another important part of plant tours – not least because this is my professional field.
Anyone entering the production area must wear safety shoes. I always set a good example, even if it doesn’t look that way – these days we even have ‘safety pumps’!
However, we cannot provide safety shoes in all sizes for all of our visitors. To solve this problem, we have marked fixed paths on the floors of the production area that visitors must not leave. In addition, all visitors wear yellow safety vests.
As you can see, giving plant tours is a highly varied role that requires a great deal of flexibility and creativity. And because some things cannot always be planned, I am always delighted to welcome new visitors to MANN+HUMMEL’s Marklkofen plant.
Perhaps I’ll see you there soon?