Thirty-one years ago, John Vogels started working at Te Strake, NTS’ predecessor. With over twenty-two years of cleanroom experience, he now works as a proto mechanic. Moreover, he supervises and trains apprentice mechanics and new employees. Something he does devotedly. "I think everyone should get a fair chance to learn. I find it very important to give young people the opportunity to grow.”
"Thirty-one years ago, I started my career as a toolmaker at Ter Strake, the predecessor of NTS," says John. "After a while I followed a retraining to become a mechanic. In addition, I chose for the fine mechanics, vacuum specialization. A type of work that also requires precision, just like toolmaking. That is why I think working in a cleanroom is so great, I have twenty-two years of cleanroom experience and it all revolves around accuracy and quality awareness.”
Precision and quality awareness are basic conditions
“As a mechanic, I once started working on complex modules: the sample loaders for electron microscopes. After that I worked on various other products and modules and finally, I returned to this product group as a supervisor and trainer. Besides that, I am also a Proto mechanic. A role in which precision and quality awareness are absolute conditions as well."
Complex and challenging module
“The sample loader is a complex and challenging module because of several reasons: it includes a bit of motion; the samples must be placed under cooling and all of it must be done in a vacuum. Moreover, during the assembly process contamination absolutely cannot occur. That is why we work in a cleanroom with class ISO seven. "
Keep parts free from contamination
“We perform residual gas analyses to measure any form of contamination. The eventual aim is keeping all components free of contamination. Our team consists of around six to seven people who all work in the cleanroom. We also work a lot with product engineers to make work instructions as good as possible so that there is no uncertainty in the assembly process.”
“Assembling the module is extremely precise work. After assembly, we also extensively test the module. We carry out an endurance test that requires 1200 maps. That means that a cartridge is placed in the Cassette 1200 times, under vacuum and at temperatures of -180 degrees Celsius.”
Working in a precise and disciplined way is the main challenge
“When assembling the sample loader, it's all about quality. Working in an accurate and disciplined way, is the main challenge. I also try to teach this to apprentice mechanics. One of the apprentices that is under my guidance is Menno van Os. He is in a professional practical skill course at NTS. For this line of work, you have to be very disciplined. Something that Menno is very good at. He remains very calm, has the patience required for the fine mechanical work and he works in a clean, calm and precise manner.”
Skills matrix for training apprentice mechanics
“At NTS, we use a skills matrix to train apprentices. In accordance with the matrix I guide an apprentice in making a product or module component five times. After that you know whether a student is serious and if he has affinity with assembly. When an apprentice has completed the skills matrix, he can work independently. Although I then still tell them that they can always contact me if they have questions. I also think it is good that apprentices ask and address critical questions. We have to keep each other focused.”
Curiosity is motivating
“Menno is very eager to learn. He appreciates it when I give him tips and explanations and thanks me for it. That gives me a lot of satisfaction and it motivates me to guide him well. As he picks up everything quickly, wants to do his work well and collaborates very well with his team, he has already taken over a number of tasks from his former team leader. He, for instance, ensures that missing and incorrect parts are ordered and he represents our team during a brief daily meeting with the planning department.”
Proven capability leads to additional responsibility
“This meeting is called daily management. The aim is to go through all ins and outs concerned in a process on a daily basis. Menno had already proven that he is capable of taking the responsibility and indicates that he wants to do it. He is able to keep the overview and actively asks what’s going on in our team. That team feeling is important, you achieve results together and that awareness is very present in our team. We are well attuned to each other.”
Important for young people to grow
“I really like my role as a trainer. I think it is very important to give young people the opportunity to grow. I believe that everyone should have a fair chance to learn. When selecting cleanroom mechanics, I pay attention to them showing genuine interest, inquisitiveness and I look at whether someone has an awareness of quality. If so, then I am willing to put a lot of energy into guiding them. In this process collaboration and mutual appreciation are very important to me. "