Her alarm clock doesn’t ring. When Tina Ludwig is woken up in the morning, it is shortly after four o’clock. That’s when her alarm clock comes to life with a mellow light show before softly playing music that slowly but surely gets louder. This way, the “shift manager general assembly” starts her day without a shock. Another trick: the 36-year-old programmes in odd times such as 4:04 or 4:11 a.m.
So if she wakes up during the short night, she doesn’t start calculating how many more half-hours she can sleep. This ingenious strategy works –Tina Ludwig has never overslept in her life. That’s called iron discipline, and it’s necessary when she and her team build the Opel flagship in Rüsselsheim day after day.
“I try to greet each of my employees every day with a ‘good morning’.”
The Opel flagship Insignia made in Rüsselsheim
One hundred and sixty people start their shift punctually at 5:45 a.m. By then Tina Ludwig has already been at the plant for half an hour, reading her emails or speaking with the foremen in her team. “I need to start the day well prepared,” she says.
Then she makes her first round through the final assembly shortly before 6:00 a.m. at the latest. “I try to greet each of my employees every day with a ‘good morning’ and wish each of them a nice weekend on Fridays,” says Tina Ludwig.
After all, it is primarily her sense of teamwork that has brought her to the line. At 6:30 a.m. the meeting with all team leaders follows, to discuss the previous production day and get everyone aligned for the tasks ahead.
From the press department to the final assembly linedmontage
The history graduate began her career in Opel’s press department and quickly moved from trainee to spokeswoman for the Rüsselsheim plant. There, her always friendly, positive and at the same time determined, hands-on manner immediately caught the attention of plant manager Michael Lewald.
At a multi-day training seminar, she was the only woman in a group of 20. At the end of the event, Lewald asked his plant spokeswoman if she would like to work in production. The former handball coach accepted the new challenge in the autumn of 2018.
The right approach is teamwork
“I really enjoy working with my male colleagues. They accepted me from day one,” says Ludwig. If issues arise during production, it is her job to manage them. If the line is at a standstill for more than 90 seconds, an alarm sounds, then the task is to get to the bottom of the problem and rectify it quickly.
When production is running smoothly again, Tina Ludwig simultaneously checks compliance with all Corona hygiene rules, ensures cleanliness on the line and keeps a constant eye on the “Andon” board. Here, her employees on the line can directly report if anything occurs that could lead to quality problems or production issues. Then the plant manager is again immediately on the spot.
After the shift comes the computer
The normal shift ends at 1:15 p.m. But that’s not the end of the day for Tina Ludwig. Then she works on emails, analyses production processes, plans, schedules, makes preparations. “Only rarely does my day end before 3 p.m. At the moment, like so many others, I lack the right balance because of the Corona restrictions after work,” she says.
She is looking forward to when handball can finally be played again: “Then I could imagine getting involved again. Maybe even get back into coaching.” After all, team spirit also makes a world of difference in sport.