Engineering Manager Marcel Rietkerk (43) is responsible for a team of 29 engineers within the Mechatronics division of NTS. Together they ensure that the components, products and systems of NTS’ customers can be made in a higher volume. In recent years, the team has doubled in size and it is still growing. The team faces a very comprehensive and diverse assignment in a very dynamic playing field. “My team members are people who want to move forward and explore options. We want to play Champions’ League. Sometimes it is enormously challenging to get a system to work, but then everyone gets extremely motivated so that we in the end we still get things done. It is incredible to see what a common goal can lead to.”
"Everything our customers develop and what the division Development & Engineering develops, is eventually meant to build in a series," says Marcel Rietkerk. "My department is responsible for the technical realization of series. You have a model or a prototype and that needs to be scaled up. If a customer currently produces one system per month and he wants to increase production to fifteen items per month, requirements in design, workplace and process design change substantially."
Large variation in sectors and customers requires general knowledge
"To engineers, the good thing about working for NTS is that there is a lot of variation. We work for a wide range of customers that vary from a OEM to a scale-up and active in very diverse fields. We, for instance, work for the semiconductor and medical industry and for analytics and printing technology. We also make machines for the solar industry. All very different sectors and technologies and that requires very diverse specialist knowledge. "
"Another thing that characterizes working in this specific team, is that you come into contact with a great variety of people, both within NTS as well as suppliers and customers. Within NTS, for example, you work with our colleagues from new product logistics. They set up the supply chain. Some of the systems that we make consist of up to 2,500 components. All of these components have to be purchased and delivered in time. That is a very challenging task to organize for a product that is continuously evolving."
Everything revolves around optimization for production in volume
"What characterizes my team is that we do not design a product, system or component. We contribute to optimizing the customer’s design or the design of a system developer of NTS in order to make it suitable for production in volume. In this, we work closely together with our customers. We are responsible for creating and maintaining the most efficient situation possible."
Need for people who know what can be manufactured
"Therefore it is very valuable to be able to rely on people who have practical knowledge. People who know what is possible because they have learned it in practice. When it comes to experience and knowledge, there is a very nice interaction within my team. There are team members with years of technical experience but also some young people who are very skilled when it comes to computers and software. I need to make sure that this knowledge is also shared between team members and that cross-fertilization takes place. "
Becoming an engineer to me was a logical choice
"To me, choosing an engineering study was actually very logical. My father worked in the same field. When I graduated from the mechatronics engineering program at Fontys Hogescholen, I received a brochure from one of the technical suppliers in the region. I was enthusiastic and started at the company as a constructor. Eventually I also got to know sales engineering and I learned how to organise an ERP package there. "
Combination of technology and business processes interesting
"As an engineer, you usually do not come into contact with business processes so much, but by setting up an ERP package from scratch, I gained insight into all processes that are relevant to the optimal organization of a company. In the positions I have fulfilled I have always maintained the combination between technology and business administration. My second employer was a Polish company. There I had the opportunity to fulfil a management position. That and the fact that I wanted to live for abroad for a period of time, made me decide to start there. " "You learn a lot from living abroad. Although Poland is not very far from here, the culture is really different. Working abroad is also fundamentally different than going on a holiday in another country. When you work there you really get to know the culture. In the end I lived in Poland for 4.5 years and at that moment I had to make a choice: whether to build a social life in Poland or return to the Netherlands. You simply cannot live in two worlds. "
Preferred working for company with an international character
"I finally chose to go back to the Netherlands, but I started working at a very international company with offices all over the world. As a project manager, I set up production processes in various countries and with people of all nationalities. This international character is also reflected in NTS. NTS is very international and, among others, has offices in Asia and Eastern Europe. NTS's customers are also multinational OEMs. "
Non-hierarchical organization with an eye for long-term interests
"What ultimately was decisive to me in my choice for NTS, is that this company revolves around machine building and mechatronics. That is the product. I also think the fact that NTS is a family company at the core is very important. Long-term interests are more important here than short-term gains. " "NTS is a terrific non-hierarchical organisation where communication lines are short and where both development as manufacturing takes place. It is very nice that you immediately see what you think of in theory in practice. That is where the strength of NTS Mechatronics lies. It is a large organisation but not too large, there is little hierarchy which allows you to act very quickly and at the same time the organization has enough scale to be able to pick things up properly. "
Diverse team of generalists, each with their own specialism
"As a project manager you do not have a permanent team, projects have a clear head and a tail. Working in a department, on the other hand, never ‘ends’. To me it was a conscious ambition to manage a department. You are much more concentrated on people, team formation and the organisation of processes and roles. My team is the technical source of information for the entire organisation. You have to like solving problems and I must be able to make solving problems fun. "
"The diversity in my team is great. The challenge to me is to make sure that the composition of my team is in order and that people have sufficient insight into each other's abilities and characteristics. Of course, not everyone is the same, there are people who control packages up to detail level and there are people who, when a product or machine does not work, are super strong in out-of-the-box troubleshooting and, in this way, get the machine working. What matters is that everyone has his or her specialism, but that everyone should also be able to be a little bit of a generalist. "
Growth of organisation and team
"The rapid growth of the organisation can also be seen in my team. The demand for people who can do what we do is considerable. In 2.5 years, my team has doubled in size. It is a very diverse job. NPI and Production Engineers are people who have a central role and are constantly working on maintaining contacts at the customer, at suppliers and in the internal organisation. Therefore, it is very dynamic. You also have to deal with a certain amount of pressure. When a system does not work, it cannot last a month. The situation must be resolved as quickly as possible."
Huge commitment and drive
"Sometimes we have moments that things get really tense but then everyone is so motivated that we in the end still get things done. Then you see an enormous commitment, such a huge drive. We want to play Champion's League. Then there must be a certain flow in a team. When a team has a common goal, it is incredible what that can lead to. "
Motivated professionals who are willing to go for it
"People at NTS are particularly passionate and collegial. We act quickly, think out-of-the-box, pick up things fast. We are very agile, but at the same time we are constantly working on securing processes and eliminating risks. What you get here is a lot of confidence and the chance to undertake. I only have professionals in my team and do not want to manage on details. My team members are people who want to explore options and go for it. "