“I am Pieter Bierens. I joined MULTIFIX over 13 years ago. Before that I worked for 21 years as an electromechanical constructor at Emotron in the R&D department. The company made power electronics and variable speed drives. I was responsible for everything you could get your hands on. That ranged from sheet metal to mechanical turning parts and turntables. Basically everything except the software. The company was run for an appointed management and within my job I worked a lot with the parent company based in Sweden. That was sometimes difficult because I was involved a lot with politics and not with the technology. Partly because of that, I wanted to do something else.”
“At that time, MULTIFIX was Emotron’s house supplier. They supplied fasteners. I already had contact with MULTIFIX within my job at the time and I knew that there was an ambition to also start making Specials. In my job at the time I sometimes missed some technical knowledge from the organization itself. When I spoke to Arthur Burgmans (the CEO) about this, I immediately said that he could approach me for such a job. And so it happened, the Project Management department was born. I started in February 2008. A month later, my colleague, Hans van Herk, joined.”
How was the start?
“In the beginning, when we opened a container that arrived from China, it was hoping that everything was good. The first few years were exciting. We realized that we had to be there at the beginning of a project to make sure everything was going smoothly. It took a lot of getting used to not only for us, but also for the organization itself. The department was completely new. Sometimes we knew that it was better not to take on a project because it was difficult or impossible to realize. Despite this, we have grown tremendously, including our branch in Shanghai. This is mainly because we have the right people in crucial positions there. We manage them from the Project Management department in the Netherlands and Edwin van Diessen does this for the Purchasing department. It’s a fine, stable club of people!”
How much contact do you have with your Chinese colleagues?
“We are in daily contact by email or WeChat. Once a week we have a video call with the quality and purchasing departments to go over all the projects. I usually go to China three or four times a year. I am mainly busy with my own projects, visit suppliers to see if everything is running smoothly and if we can make any improvements. It may also be that I visit a new supplier for an audit. I then map out what they are good at and whether we could possibly work together. I also spar a lot with Oliver, who is the quality manager there. Together we look at what we can improve within the team. We expect our engineers to be proactive and to be able to spot problems.”
Does it bother you that you can’t go to china now because of corona?
Pieter nods, “Yes I do. It’s important to maintain good contact with each other. I would love to catch up and have lunch with them, but with the current measures it’s just not possible. As soon as it’s allowed, I’ll go there!”
What exactly does your job entail?
“The technical and project management of products that we have manufactured to customer specifications in Asia. Then I’ve put it into words in one sentence,” says Pieter, laughing. We also deal with the quality of fasteners, but that is almost always reactive. The moment a customer complains about the quality of a nut, we find out where the fault lies. Most of the work is in the Specials. Actually, as Project Managers we are mainly involved in the ‘preliminary process’. We talk to the customer and make them an offer. If the customer agrees, we always have samples made. Only when these are approved do we release them for mass production. We continuously have about 250 to 300 products that we are working on. Currently I am also working on a project for DAF, which involves 45 different items.”
What does a work day look like for you?
“That is actually completely determined by my e-mail as I open it in the morning. In addition to my appointments of course and the deadlines. If certain drawings need to be approved for a particular day, they also determine my priority. I switch priorities daily! This dynamic suits me very well. If a complaint about a special comes in later on, we’ll get to work on it right away this afternoon.”
“I’m about to sit down with Hans for a big Otolift project. You know that, right?” I nod affirmatively. “We’re working on a very big project for the chair itself that will be incorporated into the stairlift. We’re making the plastic parts for this. Something about the project was decided last Friday and it’s taking up a day and a half of my time now. It’s often ad hoc, you see? Although there is of course a line in it because of the deadlines you have. Our customers are very diverse, which also means that the product range is very broad. From different materials to processes and surface treatments. I really enjoy that diversity!”
What are you looking for in a new candidate?
“It is a dynamic and versatile job within a nice team. We are looking for someone who can work independently, but also someone who is versatile and can switch easily. The new candidate must stand firm in his or her shoes. I often notice that you have to be able to ‘push’ a little bit. You shouldn’t want to wait too much!”
Do you have a question for Pieter? Then contact him at Pieter.Bierens@multifix.nl.