Manfred Tüchler has been with MGG Polymers in Kematen since the very beginning. This time, the 48-year-old plastics technician is our contact person in the traditional MGG relay interview, in which an employee from the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group always has his say. Over the many years, Tüchler has experienced all the ups and downs of plastics recycling in the plant and explains in conversation why it is important sometimes to fall on one’s mouth.
Mr. Tüchler, you have been with MGG Polymers since the company started. What were your first experiences like in 2005?
MANFRED TÜCHLER: That was exciting at the time, because there were only the halls where the first machines were installed. For the laboratory and everything else, the whole equipment had to be installed first. Of course, it was also interesting when the machines were put into operation for the first time. What was written on the paper did not work immediately. We still had to turn a lot of screws so that what we had imagined really came out.
Meanwhile our colleagues claim that they know every single screw in the company – that is, every screw that can be turned…
TÜCHLER: (laughs) Almost every screw! As a plastics engineer, my focus is mainly on extrusion and injection moulding, but of course I have gained a lot of experience over the years. Plastic recycling depends on so many details: How high is the temperature during processing? How well has the material been processed? Which polymer combinations are processed? We actually tinker every day – and of course this is when you can fall on your face as well. Nevertheless, trial and error is so important because it is the only way we have been able to gain a lot of experience within the company.
You are a trained plastics technician. How did you get to MGG Polymers in the first place?
TÜCHLER: That’s right, I completed my apprenticeship as a plastics technician and attended vocational school in Steyr. Then I worked for 20 years at Maderthaner in Amstetten. When I heard that Müller-Guttenbrunn wanted to open this plant with an American partner, I was tempted to take on a new challenge.
What exactly appealed to you?
TÜCHLER: Simply the circumstance of creating a new product from an e-waste heap. When you see today what you can do with recycled material, it’s impressive and really motivating. That this is not always easy is of course also clear. Customers from the automotive industry, for example, have really high expectations. Meeting these demands is a big task. Of course, it is also an incentive to contribute something positive to environmental protection by working in the recycling industry.
So was the work the way you imagined it?
TÜCHLER: Yes, I was aware that the first few years would not be easy because there was no experience at all. But it was a lot different than what was originally presented. In truth, it is still the case today that we are faced with new challenges every day in order to deliver the best possible consistent, optimum quality – but that is the exciting thing. In any case, it never gets bland! That’s why I enjoy doing my job, because you never stop learning. For this I have colleagues here who all pull together so that in the end everything fits.
What does your work look like in concrete terms?
TÜCHLER: Basically, I am responsible for the quality of the production. This means that I am always behind the fact that planning and production is carried out correctly. I always have to coordinate with the production and shift managers and find the causes and above all solutions for problems. When it comes to quality control, I take special care that everything fits during extrusion – the process when the molten recycled plastic is pressed through the tool – and injection moulding. There is also a bit of development work and coordination with logistics.
Let’s briefly focus on quality control: What exactly is being done here?
TÜCHLER: Of course, our employees in the laboratory at MGG Polymers constantly check our material so that the quality of the almost 90 tons of plastic granulate that we produce every day really fits. In injection molding, for example, we make 120 test rods for each batch, which are then subjected to all tests. But since we are also constantly developing, we now also have a laboratory extruder where we can produce small quantities and test them immediately.
Is development currently one of the greatest challenges?
TÜCHLER: Yes, the development work of reprocessing new types of plastic is of course always a major hurdle. At the moment we are even challenged to continuously refine the quality of our latest new development – PC/ABS. We also have a lot of homework to do with our new fourth line – but that was the same with the other three extrusion lines. Here, too, it took some time for everything to fit.
You have now been with the company for 14 years. Are there any moments you remembered in particular?
TÜCHLER: I can agree with my last answer that it always took some time for the systems to run according to your wishes – especially at the beginning. It was terrible, because there were worlds between theory and practice in the first plant. At the opening ceremony, which was also attended by the then Governor of the State of Niederösterreich Mr. Erwin Pröll, nothing worked 100% – but we had to keep the plant running somehow. Somehow we managed that – and when you see what has become of it today, you have to smile about it on the one hand, on the other hand you are proud that it is going so well today.
Finally, the question about the private person Manfred Tüchler: Does he have much in common with the tinkering plastics engineer at MGG Polymers?
TÜCHLER: Absolutely, because even in my free time I can’t stop tinkering and doing handicrafts. Although I enjoy sports just as much and am therefore out and about on my mountain bike or hiking in nature, I also enjoy building many things myself. I have my own small workshop where I build my model airplanes, with which I fly, of course. Currently I am working on a very special project – a 1:3 scale motor glider, where I design and build everything myself.
Then we wish you a lot of fun with it – and already now beautiful high-altitude flights with the motor glider and naturally also further in the work!