Franz, you´ve been with IFE for nineteen years now. How did it come that you started at IFE?
As a native of Waidhofen / Ybbs (Austria), IFE has been known to me since my childhood. After an apprenticeship as a car mechanic, I initially attended the Höhere Technische Lehranstalt (technical college) for mechanical engineering in Waidhofen. Afterwards, I gained my first professional experience in a design engineering office. I further expanded my wealth of knowledge in various regional industrial companies until I switched to IFE AG (today Knorr-Bremse GmbH Division IFE Automatic Door Systems) in 1997. There I could demonstrate my amassed skills as head design engineer of the "swing door" segment. Finally, in 2003, I changed to IFE Aufbereitungstechnik GmbH, where I have worked ever since.
What are your specific areas of responsibility here at IFE?
My field of responsibility comprises the design of vibrating feeder equipment, including attachments, as well as non-standard solutions of any kind. As the machines are individually designed for each application, tasks vary a lot.
What characteristics and skills does it take to work in this profession?
In design engineering, you need comprehensive knowledge about machines and their production. Expertise in application and process engineering, as well as in welding, bonding, forming and electrical sensor technology is required. Furthermore, you have to keep your knowledge up to date, which means that you have to be ready to attend regular training. You also need a passion for details and the necessary dose of discipline to keep an eye on all the aspects I have mentioned before.
What was your biggest success at IFE?
One of my most challenging projects was the planning of a triple-deck long-sizer with a counter vibration frame for an Italian customer. I had to find a solution for many open questions regarding the oscillation height and the vibrating behavior of the device which should be placed on an unstable concrete ceiling. I completed the project successfully. The customer was very satisfied with the plans, which were able to be implemented without a hitch.
You played a key role in the successful cooperation with SWARCO. What were the particular challenges?
As mentioned in the corresponding article, SWARCO processes recycled glass in the range of a tenth of a millimeter and uses multiple IFE sizers for that. I was responsible for the design engineering and planning of these multi-deck screens. Screening in this fine range is carried out by repeated fractioning over six longitudinally tensioned, superimposed screen decks whose inclination increases from top to bottom. As you can imagine, many details have to be considered here! Moreover, the machines had to be sealed against dust. An appropriate wear protection is also crucial in glass recycling. I successfully implemented all the aspects in the machine design. Since the sizer is an economical solution with an extremely compact design, it was even possible to replace multiple existing single-deck screens. Thus, we could save a lot of space.
Would you also give us a glimpse of you as a private person? What leisure activities allow you to really “switch off”?
I dedicate a large part of my spare time to my hobby farm on the one hand and to music on the other. Playing the guitar is a great passion of mine, and I am also a member of the local choral group. At a young age, I did trainings in classical music as well as in vocal techniques. Thus, I am able to feel the vibration and resonance in my own body, which I am also professionally involved with. Exercise is another outlet for physical relaxation and achieving balance.
Thank you very much for your time and the insights you gave us! All the best for you and your family!