A developer about their day-to-day work at Weiss Technik

Christian has been working for the Schunk Group since 2012. After holding various national and international positions, the graduate engineer in refrigeration technology is now head of the development of environmental simulation systems at Weiss Technik. In this interview, he talks about his day-to-day work and the challenge of coming up with good ideas on demand.

Christian, how do you come up with good ideas?

Mostly in conversations with colleagues and customers. But also at trade fairs, presentations, or meetings. Thanks to our membership in certain standardisation committees, we also find out about changes to standards at an early stage and can thus upgrade or redesign our products in advance. Otherwise, ideas sometimes come to me when I am driving or showering.

What does teamwork look like?

Each developer has their own focal points, which complement those of the other team members. Problems are rarely solved alone – we often have lively dialogues and help each other. Regular meetings with all team members are important. Many good tips and solutions have already emerged here – even from colleagues who are not involved in the current project.

How does an idea become a finished product?

We first ask ourselves: does the idea benefit our customers, and will it make production easier? Does this make us future-proof or more efficient? Can we realise the idea, and will it be successful on the market? What is the cost-benefit ratio? We then carry out a preliminary study and conduct patent searches and competitor comparisons. Even if the preliminary study is negative, we will have still gained important experience. If the outcome is positive, we will proceed with the project. When a printed brochure is finally available and a customer purchases the product, it is a great motivation for the whole team.

Are there any outstanding projects?

We are currently overhauling various series, including a climate test chamber. It is certainly one of our most extensive projects. For me, there were other good projects such as the re-development of the Salt Event corrosion test chamber. The chamber was independently tested by the Fraunhofer Institute, which has confirmed our outstanding performance data – an advantage over the competition.

How do you go about finding ideas?

We primarily use the interaction and experience of as many colleagues as possible. For example, in workshops. Here we draw on experience from past projects. I often work with mind maps.

Do customers also have requirements for which solutions are sought?

Yes, this happens frequently and is quite valuable for us. This enables us to find out which developments are pending on the customer side and which tests are truly relevant. Potential for improvement is often discussed with colleagues from the service department – that’s usually quite helpful. We also send prototypes to customers, who then operate and test them under real conditions for a certain period of time.

Was there ever a project that didn’t work at all?

Sure, that happens. Customers sometimes have requirements for a product that are physically impossible to realise. For example, half a kilo of dust should be kept in the air during a test without installing a ventilation system. We have also had good, but technically complex, solutions that were difficult to sell.