It is a gray and rainy autumn morning when Gerhard Windhager briefly parks his heavy work equipment to take time for the MGG relay interview. For 33 years, Gerhard Windhager, who lives in Grein, has been working at MGG Metran, where he always uses the wheel loader to transport the material to the right place on the company premises. In an interview, the 57-year-old reveals what his working day is like and what he particularly appreciates about it.
Mr. Windhager, you have been with MGG Metran in Kematen for 33 years. How did you end up here in 1988?
GERHARD WINDHAGER: I got to know the Müller-Guttenbrunn company through my wife. She worked as a cleaner in Amstetten and here at MGG Metran in Kematen. At that time, I was a regular soldier in the Austrian Army, but I wanted to do something else. She told me that they were looking for people, I applied and the rest is history.
WINDHAGER: A lot of work! Especially in the beginning, we pushed countless hours of overtime – and also worked many hours on weekends. At that time, the site was much more manageable. Just the office building and two halls were erected back then – no comparison to today. A lot has changed. When you see how many different systems are now sorting through the material, you can’t compare it with the situation at the end of the 1980s. Of course, the entire process has also become much more complex. So it’s not just the area that has been constantly changing – the work steps have also become more and more comprehensive.
That sounds like an ongoing improvement. Have there also been big leaps in the process?
WINDHAGER: A huge change was certainly the introduction of shift operation in 2005. Of course, that changed the working day for the workforce from the ground up.
WINDHAGER: Of course! In the beginning, I worked on a wide variety of equipment, tried everything out a bit and got to know it. Then I switched to the wheel loader and have now been driving it around the site for over 20 years. The vehicles have also become bigger and bigger – but I have enough previous knowledge and know-how to simply grow along day by day.
Speaking of day by day – what does your working day actually look like?
WINDHAGER: We have two shifts. On the morning shift, I get up at 3:30. At 4 a.m. I then drive with a colleague from Grein to the plant. Here, the shift is handed over at 4:45 a.m. and at 5 a.m. things really get going. Then it’s a whole day of loading the sites – including the new vibrator – with material and clearing out the 28 boxes again and again. What exactly is on the agenda depends on the material available at any given time. When there is a need, trucks are loaded and everything else that has to be done is taken care of. At 1 p.m., the afternoon shift takes over. You then have to work until 11 p.m.
Which do you prefer – the early shift or the late shift?
WINDHAGER: I’m definitely a morning person – getting up is relatively easy for me. That’s why I like the early shift much better. In general, I think it’s great to have a regular work rhythm.
What else do you like about your daily work?
WINDHAGER: Personally, I always find it interesting to see how the delivered material is gradually sorted in all the separation steps. You can follow the work steps quite well on the wheel loader – from delivery to loading of our sorted products. That just keeps fascinating me.
Do you always sit at the same vehicle?
WINDHAGER: Yes – I drive a Liebherr L550. It weighs 21 tons and has 140 kW under the hood. I can transport up to 6 cubic meters of material with it. Driving such a vehicle has always been a dream job for me. That’s why I really enjoy it – but it’s not just the driving that matters. There are usually a maximum of three of us on the road in a shift – you have to communicate constantly via radio so that you coordinate well and don’t make any unnecessary meters.
Is it possible to say what distance you cover on average in a working day?
WINDHAGER: Well, my display on the wheel loader says that in just under 14,700 hours of operation, 53,500 kilometers have been driven in forward gear and 12,000 kilometers in reverse gear. Another figure: In one hour, we move around 300 to 400 tons of material with our wheel loaders – depending on the material on the bucket.
We have already mentioned another number several times: 33 years – that’s how long you have been with the company. You must have seen a lot there. What distinguishes MGG Metran as an employer from your point of view?
WINDHAGER: Everything here is collegial. If there are problems, we can always talk things out and clarify them. There is also a great sense of community among the colleagues. For example, I was the best man at the wedding of one of my colleagues, and I was allowed to be the godfather of another colleague’s child. We live this bond here every day.
So perhaps we can make a flying switch to the private person Gerhard Windhager – what can and do you want to tell us about him?
WINDHAGER: I am 57 years old, married and have 3 grown-up sons. All three have recently built houses. Therefore, there hasn’t been much time for other leisure activities in recent years. When I can make it in time, I enjoy cycling along the Danube. In addition, I am happy that I can now devote more time to my family again – for example to my three grandchildren.
Then we hope you enjoy it – and of course continue to work on your wheel loader!