Sprockhoevel is one of ten MANN+HUMMEL locations in Germany. The plant produces the filter solutions of tomorrow today, including: filter applications for the ‘fine dust eater’, for the zero-emission StreetScooter owned by Deutsche Post, for HVAC, clean rooms and energy providers. As such, our future technologies are geared towards sustainability. With this in mind, it might come as something of a surprise that one topic in particular is playing an increasingly important role in the competition to attract the best young talent: namely, that the industrial zone Stefansbecke, where our plant is located, is difficult to reach by public transport.
Leave the car at home
No problem there, you might think. Stefansbecke is situated just a few hundred metres north of the Wuppertal north motorway intersection where the A43 and A46 meet the A1. We are therefore easy to reach from all directions by car; however, times are changing. Increasing numbers of employees – and not just the younger ones – are making a conscious effort to do without their cars. They want to travel on public transport, something I’m not at all surprised by in a plant that manufactures sustainable filter solutions.
Our long-serving employees have, in principle, been living with this situation for many years. Around 125 MANN+HUMMEL employees work here in Sprockhoevel, with around 60 of those working in production and work being split across three shifts. The majority of the employees come from two places: Wuppertal and Gevelsberg.
Those wishing to travel by bus have a 30–45 minute walk to the nearest bus stop. At the end of a shift, late at night or in the early hours of the morning, walking for three quarters of an hour through a deserted industrial zone is not a particularly pleasant experience for anyone, especially for our female colleagues. The distance also means staff are often involved in accidents on their way to and from work, whether due to black ice or because they are in a hurry.
Business breakfast at MANN+HUMMEL
In light of this, we wanted to hold talks with the Sprockhoevel local authority, who were happy to listen to our concerns. Those responsible initially advised us to get in touch with other companies in the industrial zone, to try and come up with a shared solution. The idea was to organise a business breakfast. The authorities regularly use this type of event to discuss joint interests with local businesses and this time around we were the host.
In order to avoid a one-sided focus on public transport links to the industrial zone, we promoted the event under the banner ‘Family-friendly business’. Topics touched upon included staff recruitment and long-term employment of skilled workers, in addition to access to the location. These topics are directly interconnected as mentioned at the start. As expected, interest was high and this was reflected in the number of guests in attendance – 35 in total from industry, the press and the town council.
Discussion of proposed solutions
Discussions revealed that several companies in Stefansbecke have the same problem. Some of them had already tried various potential solutions, but most of these had subsequently been abandoned. We want to re-examine some of these ideas and continue our dialogue with the other companies in small meetings.
There are several options here: of course, our preferred option would be to have our own bus stop here at the plant. However, this would need to be served by bus routes from both towns (Wuppertal and Gevelsberg).
Option two would be the companies coming together to provide a permanent private bus service but providing such a service on our own is simply not feasible financially. The town authorities have already offered to support us with this.
We hope to find a good solution, and I will be happy to provide an update on the situation in a future edition of this blog.