Who actually makes sure that all the colors and surfaces in the car are matching?
People like our employee Dirk. Living in Upper Franconia, he is responsible for Grain & Color at BMW, the Munich-based car manufacturer, ensuring a high-quality, coordinated vehicle interior design. Find out what this means in everyday work and how Dirk, one of our “ALTEN old hand employees”, has developed since joining ALTEN in 2008 in Engineering Consulting.
Hello Dirk. What project are you currently working on?
I’ve been working for BMW in Munich under a contract since 01/2017 and work both directly on site and also mobile from home for the “Grain & Color Team Interior / Exterior”. Our team is responsible for ensuring that the right colors (Color) and surfaces (Grain) are used in the visible area of the vehicle interior. Certain colors, materials and surface structures (e.g. grain) are specified by the BMW designers for each vehicle model. The slightest deviations can affect the overall look of the vehicle. We make sure that all values are precisely adhered to and that all components, when installed as a whole, present a coherent and valuable image – from the seats to the door sill to the instrument panel. And that for several vehicle models in parallel. When defining the grain areas, we first check virtually and then on the component itself whether all surfaces of the grained injection-molded components (as they will later be installed in the vehicle) harmonize with each other. Our scope of work also includes mold concept analysis. This is important in order to identify possible problem areas for later series production in advance and to find solutions at an early stage.
Interior of the BMW 8 Series Coupé: Colors and surfaces in the BMW 8 Series © BMW
What exactly is your part in the project?
My job is to continuously coordinate with all those involved in the process to ensure that the project is completed on time and in accordance with the order. I exchange information with the SE teams working in parallel, from the interior/exterior area, and with suppliers on the development status and organize and moderate the meetings of all process partners with the internal specialist departments. In addition, my to-do in the first step is to create the grain and color control list – an overview document of the grain and color relevant components – on the basis of which we work and which I update continuously.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Through regular, cross-functional collaboration, I speak with different people every day. Either by phone, Skype, e-mail, or I attend appointments in person. I value this contact very much. There are always new tasks that need to be solved together. This never allows boredom or routine to set in.
What qualifies you for your job?
I have to know at all times where the project stands, whether the tasks are running and that we are on schedule. My extra-occupational studies to become a project manager (FH) for tool and die construction were helpful for this. I am even more efficient in my job because I also have the technical background and years of experience in tool making & design for the automotive sector. Since I joined ALTEN in 2008, I have been involved in numerous projects for Porsche, VW, Audi, Ford and well-known tier 1 supplier, where I was mainly responsible for tooling and project support. I have also held training courses myself on the subject of injection molding, either in-house or at the customer’s premises. So I think I benefit from both: both my project management studies and my moldmaking and design experience.
You’ve worked both in-house at ALTEN in the office and at the customer’s site. How would you compare the two?
In both cases, you have an office workplace and permanent colleagues. The longer you work together, the more friendly and familiar you become with each other. Working at the customer’s site means closer contact with the customer or the colleagues there and faster communication. It can be more varied if you always get to know something new by changing projects or workplaces. Interesting for anyone who shies away from everyday routines!
How do you motivate yourself for your work?
I am generally a positive person. Exciting and varied tasks excite me and it drives me every day to improve in my field of work.