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KHS Group

“After the trainee program I realized that I wanted to contribute to the success of the company in a managerial position.”

Dr.-Ing. Tim Steinhauer

Head of Process Engineering and Beverage Technology | Department: Filling Technology Product Center | Bad Kreuznach, Germany

How has your career developed to date and what have you learned from your job in particular?

The processes involved in the manufacture of food and beverages have always interested me. I still find the commercial implementation of these processes on an industrial scale particularly fascinating. This is also precisely why I studied food technology and biotechnology at the Technical University in Munich (TUM) and later gained my PhD from the Chair of Food and Bioprocess Engineering at the TUM.

What’s so special about this degree course and what did you do after your PhD?

There’s an easy answer to this. Food and beverage technology is interdisciplinary and combines science with mechanical engineering. It was thus best to opt for an interdisciplinary degree course and learn several of the ‘languages’ spoken in day-to-day business (economics, mechanical engineering, food chemistry, logistics, production management, human resources, etc.)

These are the disciplines found in machine construction and engineering. My joining KHS GmbH was thus a logical conclusion. I entered the company through the Engineer4Future trainee program for experts and young executives.

Which departments did you pass through on the trainee program?

In the 21 months, I spent time in and at many different departments and production sites. The various blocks in the program, each of which usually lasted three months, included periods in Stretch Blow Molding Technology (Hamburg), Bottle Washer and Pasteurizer Technology (Dortmund), Conveying Technology (Dortmund) and Filling Technology and Process Engineering (Bad Kreuznach). Here I was able to gain exciting insights into current R&D activities and the plants’ production, sales and service departments.

How were you able to contribute at the various stations in your trainee program and what did you learn from this?

At the start of my time as a trainee I was able to support development teams as an expert for colloid chemistry, process engineering and dairy technology and through this also gain my first experience working in an international environment. The three months at our factory in Brazil and a month spent supporting a customer project in Argentina made a particularly lasting impression on me. During this time I was able to assist in various areas of the project, such as the ingress of the machinery and aspects of installation and commissioning of a turnkey KHS filling line. Being able to familiarize myself with production at our international plants and the exchange between our headquarters, subsidiaries outside Germany and installation sites proved extremely informative and is still of immeasurable value to me today.

In addition to our specialist training within the company we trainees were also instructed with regard to our later target functions as managers or experts. This allowed us to take seminars in project management, communication, self-management and time management, creativity techniques and the didactics of speech and through these to also hone our personal profile with professional support.

This sounds very exciting. What did you do next?

At the end of the trainee program I first spent six months working as a process engineer at the Process Engineering Product Center. My tasks included designing the process technology for lines and machines, drawing up product cost analyses and supervising projects within the department, for instance. Thanks to the valuable insights I had gained into the ways our international teams cooperated with one another I was able to help optimize processes in Project Processing and work on product standardization processes together with our Global Engineering Department which promotes networking at a design engineering and production level. During this phase I realized that I wanted to contribute to the success of the company in a managerial position together with a strong team.

I’ve been head of the Process Engineering and Beverage Technology Department at the Filling Technology Product Center since August 2017. This encompasses the laboratories and test areas at the KHS sites in Bad Kreuznach and Dortmund, among other facilities. After I’d assumed responsibility for the department, I soon realized that what we were doing here every day in the way of analysis, consultancy and engineering shouldn’t just function as an in-house service for KHS personnel. Rather, our work could be used to generate economic benefits for our customers and marketed as a product in its own right. In addition to my managerial duties, at the moment I’m therefore also busy further developing our range of services and readying them for market in conjunction with our colleagues in Sales and Service. For this to be successful you always have to have an ear to the ground regarding current market trends and developments. To this end, you need a functioning network comprising customers, suppliers, trade associations and universities.

This sounds like something of a challenge. Despite this, are you still able to develop further both personally and professionally?

Yes, absolutely. Continuously further developing my skills is extremely important to me. That’s why I’m delighted that KHS provides me with this opportunity – and even requires it of me. In this respect, following my trainee program I was thus able to then successfully complete KHS’ own Fit4Leadership management development program. Since October 2019 I’ve been eligible to take part in Salzgitter AG’s intercompany management college, among other things.

Why did you opt for a managerial position and what do you especially like about this?

Companies are constantly undergoing processes of change in order to stay competitive and profitable. On the one hand these processes offer great creative scope; on the other, they also require a huge amount of responsibility being shown towards employees and the success of the company. During my trainee program I discovered that I wanted to actively help shape the course of the company. For me it thus went without saying that I must accept responsibility not just for my own actions but also for the people I guide through these changes. I really enjoy my job when success isn’t just measured in monetary value but when my team also emerges from the process of change a stronger group.

What’s a working day like for you?

Firstly, there are a number of operative tasks to be done, such as approving laboratory reports, developing new processes and machines, assessing existing systems or evaluating the results of analysis. Secondly, I plan the workforce assignments for project and personnel coordination and am responsible for keeping to my departmental budget. This always requires a good deal of commercial thought. I of course also hold intensive discussions with my colleagues and customers each and every day, with these constantly throwing up new challenges and demands.

What I especially enjoy is supervising and devising strategic interdepartmental projects. Information is usually exchanged here on a high level of abstraction. This is where my interdisciplinary training pays off, especially where a number of different company disciplines are involved.

Is there anything about your job that especially appeals to you?

The diversity and creative scope are what make my job exciting. You often have to adjust to new production processes, complex product features and special customer requirements within a very short space of time or help customers with troubleshooting at short notice. What’s good is that the improvements in machine and process design that result from this can be immediately implemented on the next machine and celebrated. This motivates you. Plenty of customer contact (Sales Support, Project Processing and After Sales), contact to lots of other user departments (steep learning curve!) and the fast building and expansion of networks lend further facets to my work.

“Thanks to the great freedom I have at KHS I’ve been able to constantly expand my creative scope and gradually take on more and more responsibility.”

Is there anyone in your immediate environment who has particularly encouraged you? If so, how has this person helped you?

You always need people who support and encourage you if you’re to be successful. In a work environment these are of course your own superiors and colleagues in particular as only they can recognize and specifically promote your talents. Managers must then be prepared to continue to nurture an employee in the interests of the company and, as a consequence, to even possibly manage without him or her as he or she develops. My former superiors at KHS always actively showed me the opportunities I had for further development and gave me plenty of freedom here. This enabled me to constantly expand my creative scope and gradually take on more and more responsibility.

Besides your superiors the feedback you receive is one of the most important success factors and promoters in life. Only if you can reflect on your own behavior through feedback from colleagues, employees and superiors can you develop further both personally and professionally.

Thanks! Just one personal question to close. Do you have a hobby? Are you involved in any committees or clubs?

I’m a keen sailor (I crossed the Atlantic in 2013), like hiking and cycling, play guitar, sing in a choir and read a lot of literature. I’m a volunteer for the TUM mentoring program run by alumni for postgraduates where I’m active as a mentor in Freising. Thankfully, I’m never bored!

Site Bad Kreuznach in brief

Employees

875

Trainees

50

Average years of service with the company

18 years

Company premises

115,916 m2

Founded

1887

Product portfolio

(Aseptic) fillers, Process engineering, Keg technology

KHS GmbH Planiger Strasse 139-147 | 55543 Bad Kreuznach | Germany