I spent most of my working life at MANN+HUMMEL in Marklkofen. I was born in 1937, grew up during the war and started an apprenticeship as a tax clerk in 1953. I completed my training as an industrial clerk, then later qualified in mechanical engineering andbusiness administration too. Like many others back then, I was carried forwards by the currents of the Wirtschaftswunder. At that time, decent qualifications were not the only thing that mattered. The situation was different…
As a young businessman, I started with MANN+HUMMEL in Ludwigsburg in September 1964. But since I was employed to work at the new plant in Marklkofen, I was moved there after a two-month induction period, albeit without any particular function. I was initially placed in the planning department. Marklkofen had been established just two years previously. At first, all the plant did was assemble screw-in cartridges for a Opel spin-on filter. However, a new assembly line for oil and fuel cartridges had been in place since autumn 1962, with production commencing in two-shift operation in January 1963. The first assembly line for round passenger car air filter cartridges with PVC end plates got up and running in autumn 1963. The assembly lines were filled by orders that were sent to us from Ludwigsburg along with the individual parts.
In planning, we had the task of categorising the orders in production and ensuring that the necessary parts were not just in stock but also positioned on the lines. The finished cartridges were then reported to Ludwigsburg. Things were pretty chaotic at first due to the rapidly increasing production volumes. However, we gradually succeeded in running the individual processes through orderly channels. We received crucial support from the IT consultants in the Ludwigsburg planning department and from all the IT departments in Ludwigsburg which supplied the equipment.
The advent of data processing in Marklkofen
We first received a computer system of our own during the 1970s. We were able to use it to accept orders from Ludwigsburg and process them internally. Anyone who has grown up with modern IT will have no idea how rudimentary technology was in those days. The hard drive back then had a capacity of no more than 800 megabytes and cost over DM 1 million. By way of comparison, a smartphone costing less than EUR 100 now has several times as much storage capacity. Since it was always very hot in the factory buildings during the summer, our new ‘helper’ would typically give up on us and needed to be fitted with an air conditioning system. Us employees weren’t so lucky. Yet, we were still delighted with our computer system, kept developing it and were motivated by it.
We gradually started to use the computer more and more, including for constant changes to mass production plans, service accounting with production figures, check evaluations, freight documents and administration of shipments, the entire planning process with associated warehouses, receipt of goods, time recording and partial processing for the payroll office. The process was mainly one of logging data, occasionally leading to results of its own. Every day, we sent the data via a dedicated line to Ludwigsburg and they would reply with the final results. The work planning department was set up during this time. Nowadays, I think that all processes have been changed by IT – from the documents we once had to carry back and forth manually or send in the post through to computer-controlled operations that depend (almost) entirely on the use of IT.
Since the MK department (i.e. the commercial management department that grew out of the former work planning department) was made up of good staff who took care of planning, various warehouses, purchasing, shipping and much of the bureaucracy in production, I and a small team of colleagues started to focus on HR work from 1979 onwards. Marklkofen has taken on new employees every year, and between 1979 and 1994 the plant grew from 940 employees to 1663. Whenever there was demand for more employees, we would be notified by our plant manager in the morning and would then proceed to employ new staff. At the best of times we had over 300 applications from industrial and commercial applicants in the drawer, who needed no more than a phone call to accept the job. When necessary, the new staff would be at work the following day. Most of the women came from the local textile industry, retail or other small businesses. Everyone was very motivated. We could take our pick of the employees. Back then there were no prolonged recruitment procedures or anything like the current equality laws.
I look back on my days working at MANN+HUMMEL as a wonderful time. Fortunately, one tends to forget the less pleasant days pretty quickly. It is important to remember that my review of these 30 years is now being told 50 years after I joined the company.