Ruud Hardam Program Manager at VDL Steelweld

After his studies at Technical University Eindhoven Ruud sent an open application to four companies in the area. He had completed the Master of Innovation Management so he was able to turn to various companies. The HR manager at VDL Steelweld in Breda immediately took action and after one day at the company Ruud already drove home with a contract in his pocket.

And how long has that been?

“I already liked the way the company took action so quickly. And now eight years later, it turns out that the good feeling at the time certainly was not crazy. The nice thing about working at VDL Steelweld is that it is a company in which we have a lot of different projects, which change ones in a while, so that’s makes that you work regularly with other colleagues due to the various large projects. This way you regularly get the opportunity to get involved in cool projects. ”

Which projects within VDL Steelweld have you worked on?

“Most of our projects were in the past in Belgium or Germany. But in recent years we have also been working on projects in America. Before that, I went with a colleague to see if the production could be done in Mexico. That was a challenging period. The way of doing business is very different in South America. We had to get used to each other, but if it eventually succeeded, it was a crowning achievement of our hard work.”

Where do the changes in projects come from within VDL Steelweld?

“When we participate in the quoting for production lines, we actually always do more at the same time. If both orders are awarded, our factory is sometimes a bit full. But we see that as a challenge. The strength of VDL Steelweld and the VDL mentality lies in the fact that we always continue and successfully complete every assignment. You can see that at the satisfied customers we have had for years and the beautiful projects that we can do again and again. Even if it means that we have to work long days. “Strength through Cooperation” is not only internal to colleagues here, but we also see the strength in every project we do through collaboration with the customer”

How does the process of establishing such cooperation work?

“It often takes a few months before we come up with a good plan of action together with the customer. The layout of the body shop and the pre-engineering takes a lot of time. The customer usually sends a 3D drawing of the new car model and how much production they want to run in one day. Based on this, we make a list of materials and a set-up for the layout of the factory. Nowadays we increasingly do this digitally, via virtual commissioning. This means that we draw up the factory as a 3D drawing and that it can be virtually tested for safety and workability in many ways. ”

Which project was a real challenge?

“The past two projects I executed as a program manager were for two new factories in America. The first was huge, with 600 robots. The factory had to be equipped within nine months for making the first car. Finally the production had to be 5000 cars a week. We got a 3D design of the car and a lot of freedom. We immediately got to the drawing board and in the end we managed to get everything done on time with 40 colleagues in Breda and 30 colleagues in England. Flexibility of your team and your company can really be tested at times, but giving up is not an option at VDL Steelweld! ”