What’s a spark eroding machine filter? In all honesty, I had very little idea when I started my new role at MANN+HUMMEL after completing my work-study programme in 2011. Now I sell spark eroding machine filters (or EDM filters for short) every day and cannot think of a better launchpad for my career. Read on to find out why …
The EDM sector is a diverse niche market with market players based around the globe. The range of available products is relatively small; at MANN+HUMMEL we offer 50 EDM filters, for example. As you can imagine, it was difficult to grasp the technical subject matter at the start, but thanks to the relatively small product range, I was quickly able to familiarise myself with the products and gain valuable experience.
Getting to grips with spark eroding machines
In order to sell EDM filters, I obviously have to understand how a spark eroding machine works. I have therefore visited manufacturers of these machines and attended demonstrations in order to see how the machines function at first hand. We also have opportunities to familiarise ourselves with the technology here at MANN+HUMMEL: the company has its own spark eroding machine in its test laboratory and also in the production halls in Marklkofen, so we can see how our filters are used.
From the very start, my role saw me dealing directly with customers, so it wasn’t long before I was sent out to visit them in person. This was an extremely nerve-wracking experience because I didn’t know the products very well and was expected to field client questions. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to give a spontaneous answer to all the questions. However, my colleagues were always most supportive, and my customers were also very friendly, so my fears were soon forgotten.
Explaining technology in simple Terms
Why are our filters needed for a spark eroding machine? A spark eroding machine is a machine tool used to shape electrically conductive workpieces by removing small particles. An electrically charged electrode is placed in a dielectric (non-conductive) fluid along with the workpiece.
When an electric voltage is applied between the workpiece and the electrode, a spark is generated which removes a particle from the workpiece. If the fluid contains a large amount of particles, however, there is a risk that the spark will be diverted and the wrong part removed. It is therefore essential that the fluid does not contain any impurities, which is where our EDM filters come in. They are there to remove any eroded particles from the liquid.
EDM filters in our everyday lives
The technical ins and outs may sound quite abstract, but the practical benefits can be seen in many everyday devices. For instance, spark eroding machines are used to make tools for producing tooth brush handles. Likewise, the tool for making the small ridges around the edge of the euro coin is produced using a spark eroding machine.
In a more industrial context, the individual blades inside turbines are also produced using a spark eroding machine. This requires a very high level of precision, so extremely fine filters are needed. Even the smallest of deviations from the design can impede the turbine’s rotation, and if you think how fast a turbine rotates, you can imagine the consequences of any flaws.
A niche market with an international reach
The main office for EDM filters is here in Speyer. However MANN+HUMMEL’s EDM operations are spread around the world: the main suppliers and original equipment manufacturers are based in Switzerland and Japan, and their production sites are located in China, Thailand and Singapore, as well as Switzerland and Japan. I look after our direct clients in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and also our foreign subsidiaries. Since our work involves contacts around the world, it is important that the team is very well connected. We liaise with managers from the technical and development departments as well as sales colleagues across the globe. The international nature of my job is one of its biggest challenges. When I phone Asia in the morning, the US in the afternoon and Europe in between times, I have to quickly switch between different customs and cultural norms. That said, working together with my direct customers and communicating with people around the world is what makes my working day really interesting. It has given me a great start to my career!