Training at MAPAL

Benedikt Licht sheds light on his training as a precision toolmaker, which is helping him turn his hobby into a career.

He fixes metal pieces in manually or digitally-controlled grinding machines, measures the grinding angle and monitors proceedings with a keen eye. In his training as a precision toolmaker, Benedikt Licht whips worn and torn tools back into shape.

"We make machine tools like milling cutters and drills and repair them or regrind them if they've gone blunt, for instance", Benedikt sums up his job. Following the advice of a current colleague, he applied for a precision toolmaking apprenticeship at BECK in Winterlingen back in 2018. MAPAL's subsidiary specialises in the manufacture of multi-bladed reamers.
"I make models with my father in my spare time. That's why I was looking for a job where I could use my craftsmanship skills and my knack for precision". That's how Benedikt explains the thinking behind his decision. For a while, a career as an industrial mechanic was also on his shortlist. However, he ultimately opted for this demanding role behind the grinder – where the very last micrometre can make the difference.
In the first year of his apprenticeship, he worked in the training workshop, where he was mostly able to work on milling cutters in the universal grinder. Once he passed his interim examination, he spent time in various areas of production – from repairs and cylindrical grinding to CNC tool grinding. "You get to spend always about two or three months in each department, which gives you a great insight into day-to-day production and how versatile the job is", explains Benedikt.

"I think this hands-on way of learning is really cool, as well as the way we're taught. If you get stuck, you help each other and try to crack the nut together."

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Identification through performance

Usually, his working day starts at 7 a.m. – and with the knowledge that there's always something different in store. Sometimes the order is already ready and all he has to do is pile up and measure parts. Sometimes he dresses a grinding wheel or prepares upcoming orders. Benedikt particularly enjoys the multifaceted nature of his training. He's also been able to enjoy a few small successes, which he remembers with a smile. For instance, at the beginning of his training, he built a model car that he was allowed to take home. In close collaboration with the other trainees, he designed an ergonomic workstation for production, including a bench grinder, that's still in everyday use. "It makes me really proud when I walk past it and I know I was involved in making that happen", says Benedikt. In his current project, he's programming the grab mechanism for the loader for a CNC milling machine. With this function, the machine reinserts the parts automatically, which makes production much more efficient, as employees can be setting up or running other machinery in the time they save. He's now excited about the results of the grabbing mechanisms and wants to find out how they work in the machine. From the design to the finished article – he will then have done it all by himself.

Working with friends

Benedikt likes the leeway he's granted. He's often able to decide his approach to the job himself, as long as his trainer approves the plan. If he faces a challenge, he tries to solve it alone first. He figures he learns the most this way. When new machines arrive, they're certainly explained step by step. "I think this hands-on way of learning is really cool, as well as the way we're taught. If you get stuck, you help each other and try to crack the nut together," says Benedikt, praising the collaborative working culture at BECK. The working environment among the trainees is also outstanding. "We're all friends and we hang around a lot together outside of work as well", says Benedikt.

The role of foreman in his sights

In his current post at the CNC tool grinding machine, Benedikt is already making tentative steps towards the practical aspect of his upcoming final examination, where he may need to produce the tool body of a milling cutter. Afterwards, he would like to spend a few years gaining professional experience. One day, perhaps, he would like to become a foreman or technician at BECK. His tip for budding trainees in his area: "Maths is important when you're grinding things. You need to deal with angles you set at the machine and you need to enjoy working neatly and precisely in general. Then you'll soon come to love the job", says Benedikt.

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