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Hand Made

Photos
Manfred Jarisch

Text
Stefanie Kern

These hands are Audi

They stand for skill and dexterity, for perfection and experience, for work with passion. Every Audi is the work of many hands, from Design to Quality Assurance, from Development to Production. Here are six examples, representing more than 68,000 company employees.

Paint Shop

Werner Schirmer
Component Paint Technician

Where the robot arms don’t reach, it’s down to the hands of Werner Schirmer – even if they seem to disappear inside a dust-proof protective suit. Deep in concentration, the 47 year-old from the Component Paint Shop applies filler to the engine compartment, the underside of the hood and to the B-pillar. This layer evens out tiny irregularities before the paint gives the car its uniform color. “The thickness of the paint has to be right. It’s the only way to maximize the Audi’s protection against rust and damages,” he explains. Schirmer has been with Audi in Ingolstadt since 1984 – nearly 29 years, during which he and his hands have accompanied the development of the model range from the Audi 80 and Audi 100 through to the present day.

Quality

Jörg Bernhardt-Moggl
Quality Inspector,
Materials Technology Interior

When Jörg Bernhardt-Moggl receives new leather for checking, the first thing that he does is – feel it! He strokes his hands carefully over the natural material in front of him. The 41 year-old has been working for Audi Quality Assurance in the Materials Technology Interior department since 2011. The leather has to ­withstand around 45 different tests of its properties, such as stretching and exposure to light, before it is used in an Audi as upholstery or on clad items like a gear knob. For Bernhardt Moggl, however, it is the first, subjective impression that is always the most important. Are the visual and tactile properties of the leather right? And how should good-quality leather feel? “Pleasant, smooth and natural! Especially on the steering wheel …”

Toolmaking

Reinhold Kraus
Toolmaker

With a look of concentration, Reinhold Kraus kneels on the large, polished silver tool in the tryout press. The minimal irregularities are no longer visible to the naked eye. But the 52 year-old patiently continues to smooth the surfaces, polishing them calmly and meticulously – all by hand. Kraus has worked for Audi for 38 years, serving his apprenticeship in Ingolstadt, too. This serves him well in his work, because many years of experience and an incredibly fine eye for the tiniest details are elementary in toolmaking. “The be-all and end-all in my work is the perfect tool surface. That is where the quality comes from,” explains Kraus. “It calls for the very highest precision!”

Production

Sabine Heier
Assembly Audi A3

It takes a few seconds for Sabine Heier to prepare the wiring loom and install it deftly in the passenger door of the new A3. The fingers clad in white working gloves disappear into the openings – and reappear with the end of the cable in a flash. Ingolstadt-born Heier began her apprenticeship at Audi in 2000, before moving to door assembly in 2003. “A door is not just a metal shell, there’s a whole lot of technology in there,” explains the 29 year-old, talking about her workstation – there are control units for the central locking, window winders and speakers, not to mention cable for the indicator and exterior mirror. It calls for true manual dexterity!

Battery Technology Center

Melanie Bentner
Electronics Technician

There are 370 volts inside the battery that Melanie Bentner is working on right now. But the 34 year-old with long, delicate fingers clad in orange gloves is perfectly capable of handling it. The electronics technician has been working in the Audi Battery Technology Center for one year. It took five months for Bentner to complete all the necessary training programs for “working under electric tension”. Now the mother of two builds prototypes batteries. This is no easy task, as the demands on her and her colleagues are high. An electric car battery has to be lightweight and compact, supply as much energy as possible and be able to survive around ten years, thousands of charge cycles and many thousands of kilometers on the clock.

Design

Volker Ried
Model Maker

The form of the Audi crosslane coupé emerges millimeter by millimeter. The light brown model of the concept car is made largely from Plastilin, a kind of modeling material that feels like clay or wax. These to-scale clay models are fundamental tools of the trade in the design process from the initial concept through to series production. It needs a great deal of manual skill and experienced model makers like Volker Ried. It looks like a surgical operation when the 31 year-old carefully removes his blades, knives and wires from his toolbox and sets to work on the model. “My hands are my tools. I need a very fine touch to be able to feel every uneven spot,” explains the qualified model making technician.