Sebastian Hamm works as team leader at a MAPAL subsidiary and provides an insight into his challenging leadership role

Between 5-axis machines and 3-shift patterns: as team leader at WEISSKOPF Werkzeuge, Sebastian Hamm is a unifying element in production and one of the first to extend his congratulations when trainees pass their exams with good results.

“One of my main tasks is organising and coordinating around 20 employees. I also programme the CNC machine and perform grinding on it myself whenever I have the opportunity. I also regularly consult with production management, senior management and my team when evaluating certain key figures”, is how Sebastian Hamm outlines his extensive range of responsibilities. Born in Thuringia, he completed his training to become a cutting tool mechanic at WEISSKOPF Werkzeuge in 2011. He worked as a machine operator and deputy shift manager until 2016. After gaining his Master Craftsman Certificate, he was immediately promoted to team leader at the Meiningen site.

WEISSKOPF Werkzeuge specialises in solid carbide tools and produces custom tools for drilling and milling applications. In addition the company provides custom solutions in “tipped” design with carbide or PCD cutting edges. The company has been part of the MAPAL Group, which operates internationally and has helped improve production with high levels of investment, since 2016. “It’s really sped things up. There’s only been an up-side for employees like us. New machines, new equipment, air-conditioned production facilities. It’s a really nice place to work”, says Sebastian.

“I’m just happy when younger people have learnt something from me, and one day, they can produce tools on a five-axis grinding machine on their own”

About product ranges and favourite customers

In this context, the range of products that WEISSKOPF Werkzeuge offers has been considerably expanded in recent years. “The custom tools have great geometries which aren’t commonplace”, Sebastian explains with enthusiasm. Not long ago his team was given a new product group. This involves new production of straight fluted tools, where they’ve already been able to make some improvements. He’s been taking care of one of his favourite customers for many years. These orders usually involve grinding tipped tools, i.e. brazed carbide plates on tool bodies, which Sebastian produces himself taking the customer’s drawings into account. “I’m always happy when the customer places a new order”, he explains.

Believing in your own strengths

Production is organised in 3-shift operation, with the workforces being divided into three shifts of eight hours each. This can be somewhat of a coordination challenge for a team leader. “I usually make sure that I’ve briefly spoken to every member of my team in the night, early and late shift at least once during the working day. That’s important to me”, Sebastian explains his leadership style. He encourages independent work, but is always happy to be on hand if he’s needed. This is why he particularly enjoys working with trainees. “I’m just happy when younger people have learnt something from me, and one day, they can produce tools on a five-axis grinding machine on their own”, says Sebastian. In particular, he wants to give trainees the confidence to believe in their owns strengths.

Loyalty lives next door

Most of his colleagues, who he is familiar with from his own training days, still work at the company. “Shared experience binds people together”, Sebastian believes. He estimates the current average age in production to be 25 to 35. The good working atmosphere also spills over to leisure activities. “We often meet up outside work with families and kids. We don’t live too far from each other.” For Sebastian, this is just one of the many advantages that come with long-term employment and an affinity with the region.

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