Today we introduce you to Patrick Tarnowski, our longstanding employee in the field of service technology and training management for test systems at GeKu. Patrick joined us in April 2012 after he completed his apprenticeship and got to know GeKu better during a programming course for the Simotion user interface. You can learn in the interview about how Patrick applied to GeKu, what his duties are and which tasks he particularly enjoys.
Patrick, how did you come to do a programming course at GeKu?
At that time, about 80 percent of the automated machines in my training company were from GeKu. For this reason, it was important that I completed the course on programming the Simotion user interface, since most of the machines in the company were based on it.
I found working with GeKu very interesting at the time. The company atmosphere, as well the machines and the assembly experience were all very enjoyable to me. This made me apply for a position after my training. In addition, I already knew the machines well from the customer and user perspective. This lets me better understand the customer’s point of view and helps me perform better service.
How was your start at GeKu?
After my application, I quickly received a positive response. At the beginning, I was employed as a mechanic for 6 months and joined experienced service technicians on the road to get to know the machines even better. Since I was still living in my hometown near Kassel, I was also given a holiday apartment for the duration of the training.
And how did you develop with GeKu?
With my constantly growing wealth of experience, which accumulated after the initial training, I was able to take on my own projects and set up plants by myself. After that, I went on to independently commission pre-programmed systems for the customer. After a few months, I accompanied projects from start to finish. That means I did the programming of the systems myself, performed the review with the customers and then completely set up and started up the system.
It is also important to remember that various types of robots and controls are installed in our systems. That means there is always something new to learn or we attend additional training courses to keep up with the latest technology and to offer customers the best service.
How did you get into the role of training manager?
When our former trainer retired, he proposed me as his successor. Interestingly, I did my first training and assembly at GeKu with him too. Now I conduct the training courses with our customers or new employees. We also have a special test facility at our plant in Diepenau. This enables employees and customers to get to know and try out the systems down to every nut and screw. This is especially helpful when we discuss new projects with our customers, because in this way we can discuss what works well on site with the real robot and what needs to be adjusted in detail again.
And what does your everyday work look like?
As a service technician, I naturally have a large number of orders in the field and I am directly at the customer's site. Since we always work on different topics and deal with different customers, there is a lot of variety.
Due to my role as training manager, I also have more contact with our customers and colleagues. This enables us to take the customer's feedback and implement it in the next system. At the same time, through our on-site work we also see the results of our trainings and how the customers put this knowledge into action.
What do you particularly enjoy about your work?
Every project is a very special challenge. After all, we do not build standard robots, but complex machines and unique pieces that are precisely tailored to the requirements of our customers. This also ensures that the work does not become monotonous. You always have the intellectual challenge of rethinking your customers' problems, which is a lot of fun.
How would you describe GeKu to friends and acquaintances?
At GeKu you always have the feeling that you are an important part of the company. We really get a lot of appreciation and encouragement, which lets us keep up with the times, both technologically and personally. We have very good contact with all employees in the company. This means we can always ask the experts in the team who are particularly knowledgeable in their field when it comes to versatile solutions.
Our managing directors also maintain an open feedback culture. This means that we can pass our advice and information directly to them or the sales department, which will improve the work of all of us.
What was your favorite project?
A GeKu plant was sold to Mexico last year. My job was to set it up on site and put it into operation. It is a very nice feeling to get the responsibility for this task and you are also honored that you can travel so far to the customer and take responsibility. Working there in Mexico has also brought new challenges and a high degree of flexibility. For example, you always had to keep in mind the time difference, which made it difficult to quickly ask for some advice of our colleagues in Diepenau at times.
Although I was the only employee of GeKu on site, I also had support from an employee of HAHN Automation Mexico. Both GeKu and HAHN Automation are part of the HAHN Group with 1,500 employees and locations around the world. So you always have an experienced partner from a sister company who can support you at the customer’s location. Together we then completed the system for the customer and were happy to be able to provide them with a tailor-made solution again.