Since the start of 2018, I have been working on a joint project with other MANN+HUMMEL apprentices from five different locations in Germany. There have already been reports on this blog on how the apprentice project came about and on the planning phase. A lot has happened in the meantime, however, so it’s now time for another update.
What does the project actually involve?
Since air quality and its measurement is a hot topic at the moment, we decided to come up with a product to measure and record various air parameters. Ultimately, we want our apparatus to collect data on temperature, air humidity, air pressure, and CO2 and particulate content in the air. To do this, we selected sensors that are capable of measuring criteria of this kind and that we can install in the standard housing used at each location. In Ludwigsburg, for example, MANN+HUMMEL manufactures lots of different plastic parts using an injection moulding process, so there we are using plastic housing. Other locations tend to work more with other materials, so there the same measuring technology will be installed in housings made from different materials, including sheet metal.
But our project is not just about providing data: we want to visualise the measured values using a display or LEDs, which light up green or red depending on the air quality. So, an optical signal should indicate whether, for example, the volume of CO2 or particulates in the room is critical or not. We have also integrated a filter, which is intended to improve the air quality again if the values are sufficiently low. A significant proportion of our work in implementing this consists of programming the measuring sensors properly.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. There is a lot to consider and plan for the implementation but we have already made great progress.
The last time we visited Marklkofen we were still in the planning phase and we ordered the parts that we need to actually put our project into action. After this, we all met up again in Ludwigsburg to assemble the measuring technology. And now we have even reached the stage where we are installing the measuring technology in the respective housing at the individual locations. If all runs smoothly, we will hopefully be able to complete the project at our next meeting in Himmelkron.
My personal impressions
This exciting and educational time is slowly drawing to a close, although it has not been without its challenges.
Of course, the project was an additional obligation on top of the actual training content and one that took a little time to adjust to at first. Nonetheless, we never really had any trouble making time for the project as there was a lot of support at each of the locations taking part; it just took a lot of coordination work to find suitable dates when all the apprentices involved could meet.
Another hurdle we had to overcome at the start was ensuring we all understood each other: since not all MANN+HUMMEL locations offer the same apprenticeships, the project brought together apprentices from different specialist departments, so everyone had to bring the others up to speed on the various complex subjects involved. This was not always easy and took a lot of time but, on the other hand, it was also a useful exercise. And once we have returned to our respective departments, i.e. mechanical and electrical production, we work together well as a team with our various specialisms.
For me, however, the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages. The project enabled us to get to know other MANN+HUMMEL locations and to see which products are manufactured there. We probably wouldn’t have had the chance to do this elsewhere in our apprenticeship. It also gave us the perfect opportunity to establish a network, which could help us with any issues we may have after we have finished training.
In any case, I’m extremely glad to be able to take part in this project, which has benefited me on more than just a professional level. I’ve also made some new friends; after all, you tend to spend a lot of time together when visiting the other locations, even outside of work. We have visited fairs and Christmas markets together and there have even been a few birthday invitations. Working in a team really does bring people together!