As part of my dual Business Administration and Engineering studies at the Cooperative State University in Mannheim, I completed a pre-university placement at MANN+HUMMEL in Speyer. These types of placements are designed to take place at a company before you begin your studies and mine lasted three months. During that time I gained an understanding of various different departments within the company, and even worked independently on my very first project.
I was assigned to the Liquid Filters department and, like the other DHBW students, was given the task of working on my own independent project to optimise the production process. The instructions were to keep my eyes open to root out any weak points in the production process, and then find solutions to any problems. In preparation for the project, I spent the first few days on the shop floor getting involved: I followed the production process for a filter from ‘goods in’ through to ‘goods out’, and even got involved in the embossing and packaging work. It was at that point in the process that I spotted the potential to make improvements.
I noticed that each operator had their own way of packaging the spare parts; one of them grasped the spare part twice, another switched hands half way through and another one had an entirely different method altogether. The only thing that was set in stone was how the end result should look, but not how to achieve it. I analysed the different steps involved, tried it for myself, added up the number of hand movements required and finally, together with some of my colleagues, developed the shortest, quickest and most efficient method, Then, on the basis of our analysis, drew up some operating instructions.
I found it quite a challenge. I am 18, have only just finished secondary school, and have no other professional experience as yet. As a result, I was understandably unsure whether, as a newcomer, I ought to be telling people who had been working there for around 20 years how to improve things. I found it difficult to begin with, but luckily my department was extremely supportive and encouraging.
Four DHBW students – perfect group dynamics
At the end of the placement, the four of us from DHBW presented our projects to the plant manager, the improvement manager, the works council, and other colleagues from departments directly related to production. I was quite nervous to say the least, but it all went well. The way that the four of us from DHBW worked together was also great. For example, we practised giving our presentations and gave each other feedback. It was a really worthwhile exercise and the group dynamics were perfect.
I personally found it to be a great experience. Unlike in previous years when DHBW students were simply assigned to production and spent days doing the same manual work, we were able to get a much better understanding of the situation from a different perspective – hopefully future DHBW students at MANN+HUMMEL will also get an equally interesting and challenging project during their time in production!