About the series: My name is Arne Bauer and as an inhouse reporter I am supporting Corporate Communications. In my blog series, I am introducing several MANN+HUMMEL job profiles “What exactly does a…?”. For my first blog post, I visited Daniel Sassman, the Production manager of the sheet steel division in Ludwigsburg.
What exactly does a Production manager in Ludwigsburg?
For just over a year, Daniel Sassman has been working in Ludwigsburg as Production manager in the sheet steel division. He describes himself as a moderator, coordinator and motivator. For him, the Production employees are the heart of the company and the centre of his daily work.
Foreman Dimosthenis Koutaliagas is unloading a lorry with a five-ton indoor crane. Sunlight is flooding through the east-facing window of the stamping shop and bathes the old hall in warm light. Although just one floor below, the machines are wheezing and clomping, the only sign that it can sometimes get loud in here is an ear defender dispenser. “External influences are much more extreme here in Production,” Daniel Sassman explains. American by birth, he has been Production manager for the sheet steel division at the Ludwigsburg Plant 2 since January 2013.
Work begins 6:00 am. Sassman starts by doing a round in the plant – the first of many each day – and greets each of his employees with a handshake. “I never wanted to just work with the products; that would quickly become boring for me,” Sassman admits. His role is that of a moderator, coordinator and motivator. “In the morning, I see my first task in asking after my employees’ well-being”, he explains. The tasks of the Production manager range from coordinating the daily production work to making strategic decisions together with senior management. Sassman finds this balancing act exciting and ‘great fun’.
No complaint for some time
At the heart of the company – in the Production plant – the smell of machines, welding and paint hangs in the air. On Line A in the sheet steel division, employees manufacture Piclon air filters, a two-stage filter with a very robust sheet steel housing. “We have a wide-ranging manufacturing process, from raw materials to the finished filters,” Sassman explains. The individual parts are first stamped and then put together piece by piece. The sheet steel housing looks like an enormous saucepan until the filter elements are inserted. These MANN+HUMMEL filters prove themselves particularly in dusty environments such as in stone quarries, cement works or during work below ground. “We haven’t had a complaint in the sheet steel division for some time,” Sassman proudly says.
The plant was built in 1954 and has been continually expanded ever since, creating numerous linked hallways that are reminiscent of a labyrinth. At 8:15 Sassman climbs the narrow staircase to his office, where the managers from the various functional areas have come together for a QSB (Quality System Basics) meeting.
Leadership is about motivation
Daniel Sassman, born in 1983, joined MANN+HUMMEL as a trainee mechatronics engineer in 2000. He later spent four years working in components testing while completing his master craftsman training before becoming a training instructor. He then attended evening school, adding a business studies qualification to his CV. As a Production manager, he wants to reach long-term goals. He uses his lunch break to chat to the employees. Sassman’s philosophy is that “quality standards and satisfaction are higher if people are well informed”. He does not want to run everything himself, but instead helps employees to take matters into their own hands. “In the past, leadership was always primarily about discipline”, he says.
As a modern Production manager, Sassman doesn’t want to control everything himself, but instead motivate and make the right changes at the right time. Towards midday he does another round in the factory, this time together with foreman Ibrahim Demirtas. The two of them look out for issues relating to occupational safety, tidiness and cleanliness as well as quality and organisation. At 14:00 the sheet steel division stops production and Sassman starts his office work.