Since the start of 2018, alongside the ‘normal’ training content, apprentices at MANN+HUMMEL have been taking part in a cross-location collaborative project. Ludwigsburg-based trainer, Nils Florian Kranich, and I came up with the idea for this last autumn. Our goal is to encourage apprentices from across our different locations to share their experiences with one another.

one sensor on the hand

As part of MANN+HUMMEL’s onboarding and performance programme, three cross-location modules are held for our apprentices, at the start of and during the apprenticeship. During last September’s event, Nils Kranich and I discussed ideas for new cross-location projects for all apprentices to be part of. There had already been one or two collaborative projects in the past, and we were now looking for an idea for our apprentices to take this a step further.

The basic idea was to encourage our apprentices to share their experiences from across our different locations. The project should enable the young people to building networks from an early stage, using modern communication channels such as Skype conferences and our internal team platform MH-Connect. Our only specification was this: the project should be related to MANN+HUMMEL.

We then presented our concept to our apprentices across the various locations throughout Germany, and the feedback was positive. In the past there had never been cross-location collaboration in the form of apprentice projects, and even the smaller training locations showed great interest too. The majority of the apprentices jumped at the chance to take part in the project, with participation intended to be voluntary. The apprentices then independently developed their own project based on our concept. They organised themselves, communicated via Skype, and developed, discarded and expanded on their ideas. Each location nominated its own project manager. In Marklkofen, for example, that role was assumed by Matthias Stoettner, who previously reported on the apprentice project here.

Trainees working on projects

Working together to develop the solutions of tomorrow

The apprentices’ idea for the project is to develop a sensor system for measuring fine dust, and to then install this in a commonly used MANN+HUMMEL filter housing. In a way, they are therefore helping to provide a solution to some of the current challenges faced by MANN+HUMMEL as fine dust reduction has been a key innovation project at the company for some time.

Werner Brix with some trainees

This project brings several advantages for the apprentices: they get to know other locations; they get to see how the apprenticeships are run there, what challenges there are and how they are addressed; and they learn to think outside the box. Through this they lay the foundation to be able to transfer to another location, should they find they are interested in that later on. All in all, it makes them more flexible and they are able to present themselves in an entirely different manner after their apprenticeship.

As trainers, we are able to support our apprentices through this process. We can intervene to offer support when they have questions, help them to develop their ideas, provide them with information or assist them in establishing contact with different departments. We can give them the confidence to talk to experienced engineers and technicians and help them to assert themselves. They should realise that we are all colleagues who are here to support them in what they do.