When you see Johannes, you might also hear some banging around or see some smoke. As the head of the test lab at Pepperl+Fuchs, he puts all the company’s products to the test. What he especially likes about his work is the dialogue with his colleagues. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, both on and off the job.
Hello, Johannes. What exactly do you do as the head of the test lab?
Johannes: I’ll have to look at my job description (laughs). No, all joking aside. First and foremost, the lab functions as a service provider for the development, production, and product management units within the company. That means we advise these departments on various kinds of tests, with a focus on environmental simulation and electromagnetic compatibility, and then we conduct them.
What should people envision when they hear that?
Johannes: Depending on where our sensors are used, they have to withstand a particular environment or a particular climate. Is the sensor going to be used in a dry hall? Or is it going to be installed on a piece of construction equipment outdoors? Those are completely different conditions, and our test lab simulates the environment differently to reflect that. For example, if we have a sensor that is going to be used on a container terminal near the ocean, we do vibration testing first, which involves us giving the units a really good shake, and then exposing them to showers of water and salt vapors. We also test for electromagnetic compatibility to see whether the devices still work if someone is standing right next to them with a radio or cell phone. After all, we can’t have malfunctions occurring if an installation technician walks through a chemical facility carrying a radio unit later on.
As the “oil in the gearbox”, Johannes ensures that things run smoothly
What do you especially like about your work?
Johannes: Every day is different and exciting. Although we work according to a schedule, it can involve completely new tests, and we ourselves are constantly thinking about improvements. The range of tests we perform is also very broad, so we never know in advance exactly what’s going to happen. When conducting voltage tests, for example, we might hear a bang or see smoke go up. We’ve definitely seen components flying in all directions during vibration testing. One time, we were using a demolition hammer, and we generated oil pressure pulses that even specialized external labs couldn’t generate. Another time, one of our colleagues was trying to measure the pressure of hot oil, and the dial completely melted and the indicator fell off. In general, there’s always a lot to laugh about during our work.
What else do you like?
Johannes: I like the combination of technical and strategic thinking and people management. Right from the outset, the very best thing about it has always been my team. There are 13 of us here at the Pepperl+Fuchs headquarter in Mannheim. I like sharing my knowledge and experience with others. That’s also why we always have a few apprentices and students around the lab during the practical phase of their programs. Another equally important point is answering questions as soon as possible and always maintaining good interpersonal relationships. That’s also why my desk is out there with everyone else’s instead of in an office of my own. I often think of myself as the oil that keeps the gears running smoothly.
How did you come to Pepperl+Fuchs?
Johannes: I attended a job fair and passed by at Pepperl+Fuchs’ booth. They offered me a tour of the company there. Apparently I asked a few sensible questions during the tour, because afterwards I was asked if I wanted to apply for the position as test lab manager.
Do you have any advice for colleagues who are new to Pepperl+Fuchs?
Johannes: My most important tip is that supervisors are also only normal people. You can have fun with them, which makes it more pleasant for both you and them. You should also never be afraid to ask questions. I’d rather have someone ask me a thousand questions than have someone hide behind his or her desk. Open communication is very important.
In his free time, the test lab manager is committed to climate protection
What do you do when you’re not working?
Johannes: I’m fascinated by energy and climate protection, so I’m involved in a volunteer program that teaches people about solar power. By providing advice to the local community, I hope to show people just how important it is to have solar panels on the roof. Our children’s future is at stake. I also believe a healthy body is important to a healthy mind, so I’m very active. I do yoga and bike to work and back several times a week, which is 27 kilometers a day. That keeps me fit and gets me where I’m going without producing a carbon footprint.
Would you like to learn more about the career opportunities at our location in Mannheim? Have a loot at our career portal and apply!
Head of the test lab
Working for Pepperl+Fuchs since:
Career wish as a child: an electrician
Especially food at: explaining things
What’s close to his heart: advancing the German energy transition