Stories from over 90 years of SEW-EURODRIVE: Günther Fischbach

Happy in my job

Günther Fischbach, Retiree, former team leader in Assembly Control
Günther Fischbach, Retiree, former team leader in Assembly Control

I worked for SEW-EURODRIVE from April 20, 1965, till March 31, 2016.

I had the great fortune to be able to work in a company where I really enjoyed myself right from day one. From the start, I wanted to take on a challenging role at SEW-EURODRIVE, and that’s just what I did. My work has been extremely satisfying, and after 51 years I can say I have been “happy in my job”.

Once I had finished my three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship, I first had to complete 18 months’ military service. After that, I spent around two years in assembly and about the same time at the warehouse in Graben, where I then moved to work preparation. For around ten years, I oversaw the material supply for all SEW-EURODRIVE plants and SEW-USOCOME. From 1983 till 2016, I was a team leader in Assembly Control at Graben.

The most groundbreaking change I experienced was the introduction of IT. This is best exemplified with the following statistics. In 1983, our team of ten workers produced around 700 gearmotors per day. Nowadays, the output has increased to about 3000 with not many extra workers. This has only been achievable using special control systems and computers.

As my work revolved around delivery times, capacities and customer satisfaction, and because I’m a realistic guy, I always felt as if the job was made just for me.

Personal milestones during 51 years

My personal milestones have included the reduction of delivery times, which I was able to play an active role in. We have got down to five to ten days from previously up to ten weeks. In 1983, annual production lay at approx. 160 000 units, but by 2015 the number had risen to approx. 546 000. I also had a hand in this development.

The best experience I had at SEW-EURODRIVE was to work in positions of responsibility that were on an equal footing with others. Enduring professional motivation calls for dedication, promotion prospects and considerable autonomy. I enjoyed all of these.

I’d say my final year working for SEW-EURODRIVE was the most enjoyable of all. I was shown a great deal of recognition. Besides SEW-EURODRIVE’s anniversary, my own 50th with the company was celebrated with fine words from Mr. Blickle, Mr. Kohl and Mr. Sälzler. My French co-workers also invited me to lunch in Haguenau followed by a tour of the Brumath plant. I am grateful for this and will often reminisce in the future.

Driving to work with 16 HP

The first automobile I drove to work in, in 1968, was a 16-HP 2CV. Nowadays, my love of driving is powered by 306 HP. I added my commuting trips up and believe I’ve covered approx. 400 000 kilometers traveling to work over the 51 years – that’s equivalent to ten times around the world.

Graben-Neudorf production plant – 1950s
Graben-Neudorf production plant – 1950s
Graben-Neudorf production plant – 1950s

Graben production plant – innovative manufacturing technology from the start

In spring 1948, the foundation stone was laid in Graben for the new, originally 10 000-square-meter hall system. A key characteristic of SEW-EURODRIVE’s corporate policy already started to take shape at this point. Although the investment policy generally erred on the cautious side, Ernst Blickle was still prepared to authorize large sums for installing state-of-the-art production facilities. His guiding principle viewed innovative technology, the effective organization of gearmotor assembly and a strong sales force as indispensable for market leadership.

When the site was expanded in 1964, apprentice workshops and break rooms for the employees were included in the construction plans. As the number of incoming orders increased more and more rapidly, SEW had to come up with a solution to speed up production as the existing buildings reached full capacity. A new factory building covering 4000 sqm ensured customers could be served at optimum speed. SEW-EURODRIVE set a new record for the construction time with this new shed hall. It was built according to prefabricated building standards in three-and-a-half weeks. At the same time, the office space at the site was doubled. In 1960, a combined workforce of around 600 was spread between Graben and Bruchsal.

High-tech and customer focus for over 50 years

Not long after the production site was opened in Graben, it quickly became the company’s central production plant with state-of-the-art technology. It’s one of the company’s major focal points, is vitally important to the Group and represents the heart and soul of SEW-EURODRIVE.

If you look at the set-up of the production halls in 1957, the state-of-the-art copying lathes used in gear unit assembly ensured extremely short production times. Gear production was performed with tooth-flank grinding machines that enabled exceptionally high precision and ensured low-noise operation of the gearmotors. The electric motors and gear units were custom-made to meet the customer’s specific wishes.

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