As an employee in the laboratory of MGG Polymers, Monika Sommer keeps a constant eye on all materials and their properties. In the MGG relay interview, the Aschbach native tells us which tests are taken every day – and why they are important.
Mrs. Sommer, you’re sorting a colorful bunch of different parts. What exactly do you do there?
Monika Sommer: Here samples of delivered material are examined for their composition. I analyse how large the proportion of target plastic that we can recycle at MGG Polymers is. Therefore I sort all plastic parts, copper, cables, rubber, wood etc. into a small heap. This is tedious, but important, because these samples ultimately determine the purchase price and provide the purchasing department with the necessary information about our suppliers.
During the reprocessing process itself, you also carry out many tests to ensure good quality of the material. Which analyses do you do exactly?
Summer: There are for example the process controls. The material is dried and checked to see how much wood and rubber is still present. Here we try to find out for our production staff whether the machines run optimally or whether they have to be adjusted differently. This also applies to the wet process test. In this process, a sample is taken every four hours from our wet process to check how much plastic is lost in this sorting process. Just to mention two process tests – and there are a few more.
How often are these exams taken?
Summer: These are carried out several times in a 10-hour shift so that the quality is really permanently guaranteed. For example, we also test samples from our silos where the material is stored before it enters the extruder and is processed into granulate. This happens exactly every four hours.
Is the finished granulate also subjected to tests?
Summer: Of course! For every ton produced, our colleagues take a sample to the laboratory. For example, we use a melt flow computer to measure the melting properties. This is important for our customers who produce new products from these plastics. We also take retention samples of these materials, which I and my colleagues have to bring to our warehouse two floors above us in order to have access to them again at any time.
Before you started working for MGG Polymers three years ago, you worked in retail and gastronomy for many years. What prompted you to switch to the lab?
Sommer: My daughter also works at MGG Polymers and at that time thought I should have a look at the work here. I enjoyed it right away. I have always said before that I never go to a production company, that is too monotonous for me, but here you always have something else to do around the clock. In addition it is important to learn new things over and over again. In short: It never gets boring here in the lab!
There’s always something new with the equipment. There are lots of devices all around…
Summer: In fact, we have a lot of equipment – from a small circular saw to the numerous computers. We recently received another new injection moulding machine. The handling of every new device is another challenge, but I always like to face it. I’m not a computer professional, but I still like working with PCs.
Now we haven’t even talked about the working environment here – what do you like best?
Summer: Working hours in any case. Shift work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am totally happy that I can work four days and then have four days off. There is also time for the family – such working hours and such a varied work can not be found so quickly!
How is shift work divided up?
Summer: There is a day shift and a night shift. The day shift starts at 5:00, the night shift at 5:00. There are always two of us in the laboratory, who then tackle one task after the other. Some analyses are scheduled – for example, checking the silo contents – other tests must be carried out when they are needed. For example, if a finished product delivery has to be checked. But what is always important: accuracy. That’s the order of the day – no matter what test or analysis.
Accuracy always means effort. How do you balance this strenuous shift work?
Summer: I have been a grandmother with heart and soul for a year. Since my daughter lives with her family in my house, I can really enjoy it. I like to go for a walk with our dog and my granddaughter. My husband and I travel many kilometres by motorcycle. There we often make spontaneous trips or plan routes for the vacation. If the weather is fine, we will go to Vorarlberg this year.
We wish you a pleasant tour and a lot of fun in the laboratory at MGG Polymers!