The HELLER training department offers its apprentices numerous ways to gain practical professional experience. Not only are HELLER apprentices given an opportunity to get an idea of the work of a service engineer on assignments in Germany, Austria and other European countries – since 2018, they can do the same in China or in Mexico. The scheme is called ‘Sommermontage’ (summer service assignment) and intended to raise the apprentices’ enthusiasm for going on service assignments abroad.
TEXT Tanja Liebmann-Décombe PHOTOS HELLER apprentices
Moritz Armbruster, 19, third year mechatronics apprentice
“I have been abroad before, travelling to the US several times on private vacations. The culture there is completely different from Chinese culture. When I learned about the ‘Sommermontage im Ausland’ (summer service assignment abroad), I was quite taken with the idea and applied for a place in China. The only thing I was a little sceptic about was the food in China. I was not sure whether I would like it. In the end, my concerns were unfounded. I liked all of it.
From 13 to 31 August 2018, I worked with the colleagues at a customer in Zhangjiakou, a city approximately 200 kilometres north-west of Beijing. I was actively involved in the commissioning and had various tasks to complete. For instance, I helped with the installation and setup of the machines. It was great fun and I learned a lot.
The three weeks I spent in China greatly helped my personal development and I can well imagine spending four or five weeks abroad. When I have completed my professional education, I would like to work in service and assembly. In my opinion, the tasks of a service engineer are very varied and provide exciting challenges and an opportunity to gain many positive experiences.”
Juntao Fu, 25, third year mechatronics apprentice
“I was born in China and came to Germany when I was twelve. So my service assignment for HELLER at Sinotruk, one of China’s leading manufacturers of heavy trucks, was something of a back-to-the-roots experience for me. The country, culture and the people were all familiar to me. And of course, I speak the language. Therefore, I also helped out as an interpreter on location.
When I have completed my professional education, my goal is to support the transfer between HELLER Germany and HELLER China. But I don’t think I will go to China right after my apprenticeship. I think it will be better to continue working for HELLER in Germany for two more years. Having gained sufficient practical experience and a profound know-how it will be easier for me to deal with the complex tasks on location in China.”
Max Walker, 19, third year mechatronics apprentice
“I am glad that I did not go to China alone but went there together with Juntao to work at our customer Sinotruk. Juntao did a great job as an interpreter, which was really super. We spent the last three weeks of the 2018 summer holidays in China and it was a really great experience. My time in China has encouraged me to stick with my plan to become a service engineer. I have always been interested in this job and now I know that I would really enjoy the work.
At the beginning, it was difficult to understand all of the correlations of course. We performed work for Applications Assembly (AA) on site and our job was to find ways to enhance the engine manufacturing processes. It was very challenging work and initially we only watched our supervising tutor and the other experts. Then, gradually, we also contributed our own suggestions. Changing the program and then seeing the improvements achieved in the µ range provided me with a great sense of achievement.”
Lukas Reutter, 20, industrial mechanic, department ACA
“I recently completed my apprenticeship at HELLER and had an opportunity to participate in a foreign assignment in the summer of 2018. I was able to choose between Mexico and China. Based on intuition, I decided to go to Mexico. For three weeks, I was able to look over the shoulders of the experts working at our customer General Motors in Ramos Arizpe, near Monterrey, and helped with the machine installation.
The city of Ramos is not very attractive and nothing special. My parents had some concerns due to the armed conflicts existing in Mexico. However, I never saw anybody with a gun and felt very safe at the company. I very much liked the ‘Sommermontage’ and I am happy that I found employment with the department ACA following the completion of my apprenticeship. I am keen to see more of the world and enjoy travelling to different countries. And HELLER is giving me the opportunity to do this.”
Marc Lorenz, 20, third year industrial mechanic apprentice
“Working in Mexico I noticed what a privilege it is to live in Germany where quality standards are high and everything is rather modern. Nevertheless, I really liked working at General Motors in Mexico. I had a chance to get a taste of the ‘real’ life of a service engineer during the last three weeks of the 2018 summer holidays and I really enjoyed the job. The work is very wide-ranging and varied. My experiences were positive and I learned a lot of useful things.
The focus, of course, was on the practical application of my skills. I learned a lot of useful stuff and a few tricks of the trade for best practice when commissioning a machining centre. Of course, it takes quite some time to link a series of machines to a manufacturing line. Therefore, I would like to spend 4 months abroad in order to support the work as long as possible. I have a clear goal now: after I have completed my apprenticeship, I would like to work in final application installation.”
Samuel Kleinschmidt, 25, mechatronics engineer working in International Service
“During my apprenticeship at HELLER to become a mechatronics engineer I participated in the ‘Sommermontage’ scheme four times. I was really keen to go on an assignment and always wanted to be among the participants. I went abroad three times, working in Italy, France and finally in Spain. I always enjoyed my assignments, including working for MAN in Nuremberg.
If one of HELLER’s apprentices asked me if I would recommend the scheme, I would definitely answer yes. Especially those apprentices thinking about working in service later on should seize the opportunity offered by HELLER in my opinion. There is no better way to find out whether the work of a service engineer is the right job for you.
For me personally, working on assignments abroad is exactly what I want. I like to travel and have always got on very well with the colleagues, no matter which country I worked in. They really supported me in my work and taught me a lot so that I gained valuable experience. It is absolutely great of HELLER to offer this scheme.”
Maximilian Breuning, 23, third year mechatronics engineer apprentice
“My parents are German and emigrated to Spain when I was one year old. I grew up bilingually, which, of course, is a huge advantage. Language is crucial in working life and I would like to benefit from the advantage of being fluent in German and Spanish.
My grandparents live in Bempflingen. I was looking to find an apprenticeship near to where they live, so I applied with HELLER. I am very happy to work here. The professional education here is excellent and I think that HELLER offers apprentices a very special opportunity with the ‘Sommermontage’ scheme.
I took part in the scheme four times and gained a lot of experience during one assignment in Germany and three in Spain. The last time I participated was in summer 2018. We worked on the retrofit of a 20-year-old machine that was to be made fit for the future. My supervisor explained everything very well and I was allowed to do many jobs on my own. No matter what assignment I was on, participating in the work on site was very instructive. My long-term goal is to work for HELLER in Spain and Portugal.”