Project Manager, LÄPPLE Automotive
INTERVIEW WITH Robert Neft

Profile

Robert Neft

With LÄPPLE AUTOMOTIVE since 2003

My tasks

Management of series-production projects, from planning to quality assurance.


How would you describe your career so far at the LÄPPLE Group?

I started my journey at LÄPPLE as a puncturer, before working my way up to become plant operator. I really enjoyed the work there, and I was adamant that I could make it into something even better. I then seized the opportunity and decided to develop myself further. Having already qualified as a technician, I did the advanced training before being offered a position as supervisor for bodyshells division 1, which I was eager to accept. I then took on additional training as an auditor and quality management officer, eventually landing myself a project management position – a job I’ve been doing for three years now.

 

How would you describe your job as a project manager?

Project management here is a far cry from your typical office job. You spend maybe 50 or 60 per cent of the time at your desk, but the rest of the time, you’ll be out of office on project work, be it at development meetings, series production lines, customer consultations or on the factory shop floor. I am responsible for factory layout, quality, output and which technologies are used. So I’m often travelling around to different places in order to deal with issues relating to these areas. So it’s definitely not a purely desk-based job.

 

What is the most fascinating thing about your job?

What excites me about this job is the sheer variety of things to do each day. I’m involved with all areas, from system engineering and the selection and procurement of components, right through to the finished product. I’m really passionate about the whole thing!

 

An important area for LÄPPLE Automotive is what we call the unicell. Could you briefly tell us what this is?

A unicell is a kind of manufacturing cell which is used to make several different products. A plant has a certain useful area, but several products can be integrated into a single unicell. This is a major advantages of using unicells, because they can be used to manufacture a wide range of product variants.

 

 

What do you have to consider when designing new systems?

The great thing about this kind of production system is that it can create premium, next-generation products. This kind of product cannot be created using standard technologies, but rather with innovative techniques such as laser beam welding. We also employ laser smoothing technology in these systems – something which hasn’t been used in this way before. These are surely the technologies of the future.

The car manufacturers of tomorrow will demand innovative technologies such as the laser welding of today. We will eventually move away from conventional, adhesive-based bonding and adopt laser welding, laser beam welding and laser soldering. I firmly believe that’s where technology will take us.

For example, we are the first supplier to use laser beam welding for an aluminium door for our customer BMW, so LÄPPLE Automotive is leading the charge in this movement. That’s definitely something we can be proud of.

 

 

How does collaboration work between Teublitz and the other sites of the business?

We work very closely with FIBRO. For example, they supply us with the rotary tables we use for each of our projects. We then hold discussions with our various staff groupings, after which we install these components in our systems as well.

This system of collaboration works very well. Our colleagues from Heilbronn and Teublitz get along very well. Of course, there can be language complications from time to time, which is understandable because the dialects we speak are a little different. But in the end we’ll always find some common ground on which to communicate.


What developments do you think are in store in the future?

There’s a trend nowadays where niche products come from OEMs, and these are niche products the OEMs can’t manufacture themselves due to the low production quantities. As a result, these small series-production jobs are outsourced. That’s where we see opportunities to grow our order books.

2019

MAXIMUM PRECISION SINCE 100 YEARS

August Läpple founded his company on 1 April 1919. What began as a small workshop has now become an international corporate group: the LÄPPLE Group. A strong network of four business units. With 15 business locations worldwide. As a supplier of car body parts, bodyshell components, standard parts and rotary tables, automation solutions and modern training concepts, LÄPPLE continues to stand for highest precision along the entire industrial value chain.

Read more