With spanners and diagnostic tools

Kim Buchholz, trainee mechatronics engineer at HHLA Technik

Kim Buchholz came to HHLA in a roundabout way. “Luckily!” she says today. Right after finishing school in 2018, she enrolled at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) to study automotive engineering. This gave her an early appreciation of the practical. However, it wasn’t tangible enough for her. Following that experience, she tried her hand at retail and was quickly promoted to deputy store manager, but that also didn’t ignite her passion.

She knew she had to stay on the ball until she found her dream job. While working towards that goal, she kept thinking about her work experience at HHLA – two defining weeks that took root in the back of her mind. “I thought at how much I enjoyed being at the container terminal,” Kim reminisces. She was allowed to go anywhere with the inspection team, even to the container gantry cranes. The huge machines and the many specialised workshops made a lasting impression on her.

For a long time she had not wanted to emulate her father, who works in a workshop at HHLA and repairs everything at home. Nevertheless, eventually she applied for an internship as a mechatronics engineer – and that turned out to be the right decision. “The training at HHLA is very well-founded. I work in very different areas,” she says in the high halls of the workshop at Hamburg’s Burchardkai terminal.

Alongside her colleague Majed Al Wawi, she is standing next to a red spreader with multiple working tracks, a metre-long container handling device weighing several tonnes. It uses its four gripping points to pick up containers at the four corners in order to safely lift and transport them. The two have connected the spreader to a diagnostic and control panel. Kim explains how it is used. Both the electrical and mechanical connections have to be inspected at regular intervals.

Kim uses a large spanner to tighten the nuts on the spreader. “That’s part of the job,” she adds with a laugh. “When learning about tools, we had to start with how to use a file, for example. Deburring workpieces, giving them shape. I like being able to create something with my hands.”

She believes there are good prospects for her work in the HHLA workshops: “There’s always something that needs repairing – including the automated devices that we will receive in ever greater numbers in the coming years.” Kim is enthusiastic about new tasks like these and helping to shape the future of HHLA. When asked whether Kim, who proudly observes container ships sailing up and down the river every day, has found her dream job, the future mechatronics engineer replies: “I work at the port now! And I feel really good about it!”

Published 8.3.2024

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