Willi's position as Act for Quality Ambassador at voestalpine Automotive Components in Schmölln allows him to take a creative approach to his work. He provides insights into how he uses shoelaces, for instance, to get people to focus on quality.
It can take a lot of persuasion to change practices that have stood the test of time. This is a challenge that Willi is happy to take on. In Schmölln, Germany, he is the Act for Quality Ambassador at Automotive Components, a Metal Forming Division’s business unit whose core competency is the development and implementation of lightweight solutions for the automotive industry. “We are going through a period of change and disruption, which means there must be new ways of doing things that we need to explore. This is vital, even though change always seems challenging at first,” states Willi. He regards the task of convincing colleagues to act to ensure quality as both a profession and a calling.
Back to his roots…
…is what Willi thought in 2017 when he left Dresden and returned to Schmölln to join the toolmaking department at voestalpine Automotive Components. He was born in the Schmölln area and lived near Dresden for several years while training as a tool mechanic. He has always been passionate about continually making optimizations and driving improvements. As a tool mechanic, he has acquired a lot of practical experience over the years. He likes to draw on this experience when submitting ideas to the company. That makes it all the more fitting that Willi has now turned his passion into his full-time profession. He has been an Act for Quality (AfQ) Ambassador since the fall of 2022. He is currently in the SF15 pilot department, a body-in-white department at the Schmölln site.
Act for quality
This is an absolutely crucial principle, especially for products destined for highly demanding sectors such as the automotive industry. That is why voestalpine Automotive Components is introducing a quality system at all its locations to promote cultural change with the help of AfQ ambassadors. The company is conducting workshops to thoroughly train the employees in the ten practical quality principles which are then implemented in production. Another important element in a quality-oriented continuous improvement process is to actively incorporate employees’ ideas for optimizations and then make them standard practice.
"We need all our colleagues on board if we are to put our quality principles into practice."
Understanding through shoelaces
In addition to analyzing existing processes, a large part of his job is to get employees actively involved through AfQ training courses and workshops. According to Willi, the key is to combine theory and practice: “One exercise is to have the workshop participants tie a shoelace. In and of itself a simple task. But if you then have to explain this task to someone who has never done it before, you see how demanding and challenging it is to teach the process to new colleagues. We have an enormous amount of expertise, but being able to pass it on is also crucial.” Convincing every production line and office of the value of the AfQ quality system is one of the key challenges of Willi’s job. For Willi, it is precisely these positive challenges and seeing how ideas ultimately pay off in practice that make his job so exciting.
Bring on the next challenges, says the AfQ Ambassador: “I have a full workload and I am very pleased about that. Furthermore, I can identify with voestalpine Automotive Components as an employer, with my job, and our products. That’s very important to me.” After a successful start in the body-in-white department, Act for Quality will be rolled out in other departments. This hot topic hits the mark when it comes to further strengthening quality awareness at voestalpine Automotive Components in the future.
DJ and sport shooter
While Act for Quality ambassador Willi might find it a challenge to draw the crowds with quality considerations at work, he definitely knows how to get his audience going when it comes to music. As a DJ, he enjoys providing entertainment at various events, preferably with oldies and goldies from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. He is also very keen to hit the mark on Thursday afternoons, when the passionate marksman perfects his skills on the shooting range. Being with people is a top priority for Willi, both professionally and privately.