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    A service technician’s colourful daily routine

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    12. April 2022
    5:50 min.

    Kilian Richter has been working for Krones as a service technician since October 2015. When I spoke with him, he was on the road to France, to his next assignment. And he had time to take us along on part of his personal journey as a service technician at Krones.

    Kilian started his industrial-mechanics training at the Regensburg-based company for which his father, uncle and brother were also working. This was swiftly followed by an advanced training course done in his spare time to qualify as a mechanical-engineering technician, which reflected his urge to grow in his professional field. So when he found the Facebook job ad that read “Wanted: tinkerer with passport”, the timing was perfect. It paved Kilian’s way into a service-technician career at Krones. The group has been ever-present for the 34-year-old who was born in Neutraubling. “Even though I do not exactly work in Neutraubling these days but travel the whole world, it still feels good to think my company’s main base is in my home town,” says Kilian.

    Over the years, Kilian has specialised in filling technology, with aseptic lines as his primary remit. Commissioning them after they have been installed at the customer’s premises is his main task. Occasionally, he performs overhauls as well.

    This means he does not usually arrive on site until after the line has been erected. Once an electrician colleague has switched on the machine for the first time and checked it for electrical faults, the next steps in the commissioning routine are to check the machine’s correct installation and pneumatic connections and to make sure its mechanical details are all okay.

    When everything is spot-on, production is green-lighted and the first bottles are made and filled. What is important in this context is to unconditionally comply with the stringent stipulations for product quality and to achieve the performance level specified for the machine. Logically enough that means minimising line standstills.

    The commissioning process is completed by an acceptance test performed together with the customer, the contents of which will vary from machine to machine and have been contractually agreed beforehand. If the line meets all the quality and performance parameters specified, the acceptance test is deemed successfully passed and signed by the customer. In the best case, it is directly passed and the line handed over to the local operating staff straight away. For Kilian, that means saying farewell and preparing for his next trip – either actually back home to Neutraubling or directly on to his new assignment.

    So much for Kilian’s exciting, multi-facetted daily routine. But what about work-life balance? How stressful is a life spent travelling? Kilian answers questions like these for my colleague Sabrina Fiedler in the interview below.

    Kilian, the life of a service technician is the exact opposite of a normal desk job. What does your everyday routine look like in regard to workplace and length of assignments, if we can still call it “routine” in your case?

    Within Europe, a deployment usually lasts three weeks, then you’ve got a free weekend. Outside Europe, the customary rhythm is: six weeks on site, and ten days at home. So that means, yes, I do have an everyday routine, and then again, no, I haven’t because I don’t know when or where I will be going next.

    I currently spend most of my time on sites at European customers, but basically I can be sent to any place in the world. Sites are assigned to match the technicians’ special fields of expertise and their practical experience. So I will be sent to wherever my aseptics expertise is needed. And that has included some destinations pretty far away, like Israel or the USA. At present, however, I’m in the Netherlands a lot.

    That means you travel to your assigned site alone and meet the other Krones colleagues there?

    Yes, we do not really travel together in a team. Instead, we get to know new colleagues each time we arrive on site. But while we’re working there together, obviously we bond into a team. You see, such a commissioning job isn’t done overnight. It may soon be several weeks up to a year even that the same team members stay on site.

    And how do you like meeting new people all the time?

    There are always colleagues you get along with very well. Then work is twice the fun and much more efficient as well. In those cases, it’s regrettable when the project is over and you don’t know when you will be working with them again. But on the other hand, as one of my colleagues once put it: “You don’t have to look at the same face for twenty years, as you would have to in an office.” Life as a service technician is definitely never boring, you keep on meeting new people, new characters. This can be a truly enriching experience.

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    What does your work-life balance look like in everyday actuality during a site assignment?

    There is, of course, always an option for getting to know the country you’re currently working in – especially if you’re going to stay there longer for a specific commissioning routine. An overhaul job, for example, doesn’t take so long because the line has to be put back in operation as soon as possible. That means you don’t have so many free days when you can be out and about.

    During a fairly long commissioning job, by contrast, there are always options for taking a look at interesting regions or going on outings at the weekend. But there are still places where there is perhaps not much to discover in the immediate vicinity, or countries that do not exactly invite you to go on a tourist excursion. One thing is certain, though: I was in many places I would otherwise never have set foot in.

    90 per cent of your worktime is taken up by assignments, there isn’t much time left to spend at home. Is it easy to reconcile your job with your private life?

    My family and friends have given me positive feedback throughout. Everybody has to earn money – and I very much like what I’m doing. Sure, you don’t see each other that often, but then when you do those rare moments are all the more valuable, and I enjoy my time at home all the more simply because it is something very special. What’s more, I met my girlfriend during one of my assignments, an overhaul job in Munich. So my work out in the field has also given me someone whom I would not have met otherwise – as fate would have it.

    What do you like best about your job?

    It’s not boring. Not having the same tasks every single day definitely keeps it interesting. And another reason why I like my job – now that may sound sort of cliché – is that it has changed my awareness of foods and beverages. Normally, people open a bottle of juice or water, drink the stuff and put the bottle away. But they don’t really know what’s inside and what’s behind it. Since I’ve been working in the sector, I have looked at food and drink from a different angle, in full appreciation of all the effort that has gone into making them.

    What I also like is working together with colleagues and meeting new people time and again. It is nice when somewhere on the other side of the globe I meet somebody whose acquaintance I made five years ago. That’s like seeing friends again whom you haven’t seen in a long time – and working with them is just as much fun as it was then.


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    A side trip to Stonehenge is on the program in England.
    12. April 2022
    5:50 min.

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