In my blog series ‘What does…actually do?’, I give readers an insight into the jobs that different people at MANN+HUMMEL do. It is my job as a roving reporter to look over the shoulders of employees at the different locations in Germany. In Sonneberg, I spent some time shadowing Ben Greiner, a process mechanic for plastic and rubber, who works as a quality control inspector and is responsible for conducting a close examination of all the parts produced on site.
What does a production quality control inspector in Sonneberg actually do?
Despite being only 29, Ben Greiner has already had a complete change of career. He was working as a qualified hairdresser when he decided to do an apprenticeship as a process mechanic for plastic and rubber: “I wanted to do something completely different and I’ve always been interested in machines.” Although the gap between the two professions is in many ways enormous, they do have one thing in common: “Quality is very important to hairdressers too.” During his apprenticeship at MANN+HUMMEL, Ben Greiner learned about quality control inspection and decided that was what he wanted to focus on in future – the rest, as they say, is history.
Bearing responsibility as quality inspector
The job comes with a lot of responsibility, as the quality control inspector decides whether the parts produced should be approved or not. In order to make this decision, Greiner and his colleagues have a range of tools at their disposal; from slide gauges to perthometers (used to determine the roughness of sealing surfaces), the quality control inspector’s laboratory has everything they need and looks to the untrained eye like a treasure trove of technology. Benjamin Greiner certainly enjoys his work, but his job is demanding too and comes with a lot of responsibility: “You have to remain focused at all times.”
Casting the expert eye
The day begins with a tour of Production; Ben Greiner makes his way around the machines and loads the new products onto his trolley. As he does so, he attaches green labels to products that have already been inspected, marking them as ‘Approved‘. With his trolley full of samples, the process mechanic returns to his testing laboratory and gets to work. He casts his expert eye over the weld joint processing, measures the product dimensions with the slide gauge and checks the weight of the plastic parts. He works methodically through the inspection checklist, which provides a detailed description of the inspection criteria for each product: “Over time you learn what to look out for in particular.”
To carry out the burst test, Greiner lifts a part onto a test device and lowers it into a tank. He then pumps air into the intake manifold and checks for rising air bubbles which would indicate a leak – today this is not the case. Next he fills the intake manifold with water and waits until the pressure causes the intake manifold to burst. “Some intake manifolds resist up to 20 bar,” he explains. Water suddenly sprays out of the tank and the pressure drops. “The sealing nozzle was pushed out at 12 bar.” As this intake manifold only needs to resist a pressure of 8 bar, the inspection has been passed.
If a part does not fulfil the requirements, Greiner locks down the series in the SAP system. His task is not easy; he is trying to detect errors, but is also hoping not to find any. As he and his colleagues say: “It’s better to find errors here than after the parts have been supplied to the customer.” Benjamin Greiner has been working as a quality control inspector in Sonneberg for two years now, and does not regret his career change at all.