Head of Central Production Engineering
“The complexity of our product makes DAF interesting for every engineer.”
In the six years that Niky Timmermans has been working at DAF, he has filled a wide variety of positions. From Production Engineer and PACCAR Production System (PPS) Facilitator in the cabin factory to his current position as Chief of Central Production Engineering. He now works in the facility in Westerlo in Belgium where the cabins and axles are produced. However, he is also still regularly to be found at the head office in Eindhoven. The scope of the organisation and the fact that DAF is a multinational were important factors in his decision to come and work for DAF.
“While I was studying for my degree in Industrial Engineering we went on a field trip to DAF Westerlo and that marked my first contact with DAF,” says Niky. “It was here that I first saw concepts like lean manufacturing and six sigma being put into practice. Unlike many engineers, my focus is not only on design and development. I like to be able to see the bigger picture, too, and to be able to contribute to promoting that in line with the philosophy of the company. That approach was very clear to me when I first came here.”
For Niky, the sheer size of DAF and its international character were important factors in his decision making for his first employer. “Thanks to the various positions I have filled, I have been able to get to know different parts of the company and discover other aspects that interest me, too. The size of the organization gives you the opportunity to choose a completely different path if you want. The organization is also very open to this and offers you plenty of options for the future. DAF maintains an open door culture and you get to meet new people every week. I like that.”
“Since October 2016 I have been working in Westerlo as Chief of Central Production Engineering. I deal with product alterations on a daily basis, both for the current truck and future models. We have a very complex product and that makes it very interesting for an engineer. The truck is continuously evolving and there are changes every day. Customer feedback provides us with the information we need, in order to be able to zoom in on potential ways of making the truck even better. We also translate these changes to meet the needs of the factory and the production workers. Together we discuss ways of making certain components safer and more ergonomic in terms of assembly. That is unique to DAF. We operate so consistently at this high level that we refuse to believe that we cannot do things better. There is always room for improvement.”
Tip from Niky: “The role of Production Engineer is an ideal starter position at DAF. One thing I often notice in young engineers is a tendency to underestimate the importance of communication. They are enthusiastic, want to get started straight away and are focused on improving the process in whatever way they can. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but sometimes they forget to involve others in the organization and to explain the advantages of their ideas to them so that they can generate the support they need.”