Industrial Management Assistant at Mahlo – My First Months

Emma Thaler reports on her experience

Part 1 - Hello working world

Emma Thaler - Apprentice at Mahlo GmbH + Co. KG in Saal, Germany
Emma Thaler trains at Mahlo to become an "Industrial clerk" or "Industrial Management Assistant"

My name is Emma Thaler. I am 16 years old, and in the summer of 2016, I completed secondary school with the secondary school leaving certificate. After that, in September, I started my professional life – with an apprenticeship as an industrial management assistant at Mahlo GmbH + Co. KG in the town of Saal an der Donau, Germany.

Mahlo GmbH + Co. KG is a family-run business and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of measuring, control and automation systems for the textile and finishing industries and for coating, foil and paper applications.

I think contact with customers is exciting

I have always liked working at an office. But I also find it interesting to have contact with customers. As the work of an industrial management assistant gives me the opportunity to do both, I have chosen a training for that profession.

The profession does have its challenges. In my opinion, an industrial management assistant should always be able to keep a level head, even when some things do not go as planned. In addition, it is important to always be friendly and polite to customers. And of course, you should enjoy working at an office and with computers and not be afraid of having contact with customers.

I hope that after my apprenticeship, I will be able to work at Mahlo for some more years. After that, I might obtain a further qualification as a business economist. Let’s wait and see …

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Part 2 - First steps

My first working day

The Innovation hall of Mahlo
Here the story begins - Invitation at the technical centre of Mahlo

n my first day at Mahlo, I was really excited. A total of 9 apprentices had come to Mahlo’s headquarters. At 7:30 a.m., the day started: At the “Innovation Hall”, Mahlo’s technical centre and venue of customer events, our training supervisors, Mr Beil and Ms Markl, introduced themselves.

Expectations on an apprenticeship
Ideas and expectations on the apprenticeship of the young professionals

After a short introduction round, the training supervisors told us what each of us can expect in the coming 3 years. We also had the opportunity to say what we expect of the apprenticeship and what goals we have.

Groupwork of the apprentices of Mahlo
First teamwork in a new working live

The first week at Mahlo was called the “Introductory Days”. It was a time when we apprentices, besides our own work at the different departments, also had several activities together so that we got to understand each other – and Mahlo – better.

The new apprentices of Mahlo in 2016
The new Mahlo apprentices of 2016 with their supervisors

After a group photo of us all had been taken, we had a guided tour of the administration area. Here, the trainers introduced the Human Resource, Finance, Sales, Order Processing, Marketing and Technical Documentation departments. Then, it was time for having lunch together at the canteen. Subsequently, each of us had a short look at the department where he/she was to work first (for me, that was Marketing & Technical Documentation).

Teamwork games at Mahlo
The egg has to go into the nest - only possible with collective effort

The motto of the afternoon was “The Apprentice as a Team Player”. In different games, we had to solve tasks together, which was not quite easy. But anyhow, the idea was fantastic because each of us enjoyed it and we had quite a lot to laugh.

Teambuilding games at Mahlo
Team work isn't that easy - but it's taught playfully at Mahlo

In addition, we all got to know each other better and the team spirit in the group grew stronger. Finally, at 4 p.m., the first day was over.

In the following days, we got to know the work council, were instructed on the general safety regulations and had a look at the entire production area.

I must say that the first days at the new company could not have been better. Each of us was welcomed with open arms.

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Part 3 - First stop: documentation

My first apprenticeship stage: Marketing & Technical Documentation

Emma in the Marketing & Technical Documentation Dep.
Emma at her first deployment: Marketing & Technical Documentation

The first department that I was assigned to was Marketing & Technical Documentation.

My main task at Tech Doc was to edit, complete and submit delivery documents. Such delivery documents include the operating and assembly instructions of a device. When those documents are prepared, the appropriate operating instructions for a device must be completed with certain options and variants.

When the documents are submitted, the appropriate wiring and circuit diagrams are added to the operating instructions. When everything is complete, the package is brought to the final assembly and packed with the appropriate device by the machine testers.

Manual of the Mahlo weft straightener Orthopac RVMC-15
Excerpt of the manual for the Mahlo weft straightener Orthopac RVMC-15

Of course, Tech Doc also prepares new operating instructions. This is done for so-called “incomplete machines”, i.e. machines that are to become part of a production plant. Examples of such devices are the Orthopac RVMC weft straightener or the Qualiscan QMS quality control system, which are installed in plants for textile production or coating, among other things.

But new instruction manuals are also prepared for products that are ready for use, e.g. small portable measuring instruments for product humidity.

Content management system Cosima Go for technical documentation
An XML content management system is used for manuals and documentation

Other tasks of the department are the translation of operating instructions into up to 20 languages and the proofreading of new instruction manuals. For all of those tasks, we use a content management system called Cosima Go, which simplifies many of our tasks and supports us.

It offers the possibility to create instruction manuals using individual content modules that can be reused again and again. There are also some advantages and aids such as automatic versioning, the separation of layout and content, variant management and translation management.

My work at Tech Doc

Delivery of documentation to the workshop
Emma delivers finished documentation to the workshop

Every day at 7:30 a.m., I check in at work. At my department, that means I start up my computer and log in. First, I take a look at my emails to check what is to be done today. Then I open ABAS, our ERP system, where I can see what devices are to be prepared and completed today. That can sometimes be up to 20 devices per day, After that, I start to edit and submit the delivery documents for each device. In addition, there are many other tasks to be dealt with, e.g. archiving old operating instructions and brochures in our document management system. At 9 a.m., there is a 15-minute break, which I usually spend at the department. At 12 p.m., I usually meet the other apprentices for lunch at the canteen.

And a bit of marketing …

Mahlo booth at the ITMA ASIA 2016 in Shanghai
Exhibitions - here the ITMA ASIA 2016 in Shanghai - one in many marketing tasks at Mahlo

So far, I have worked mainly at Tech Doc. But I’ve also had the opportunity to do some work at Marketing. For example, I searched for the logos of the trade fairs in which Mahlo will take part in 2017 and edited them. Then I posted them on our website together with the appropriate data. You can see the result here: List of exhibitions ->

In addition, I checked our trade show cases for completeness, compiled various folders for the 2017 trade fairs and helped taking the inventory of our trade fair stocks.

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Part 4 - First results ...

Learned a lot

Working with Computer and Software at Mahlo
Work at complicated lists in Excel & Co.

At Tech Doc, I learned to use programs such as Word or Excel better. At the same time, I also learned to use ABAS and our other software.

In my opinion, Tech Doc is also the best department for learning a lot about our products. In the 4 months which I spent in that department, I learned more about our machines than I could have in any other department. At Marketing, I was able to take a look at trade fair planning, which also gave me some impressions and experience.

What I liked best about Tech Doc was that I worked with people whom I got along very well with and who helped me whenever I did not know what to do. Besides, I enjoyed working on our website very much, and it was great to see how I got better and better at dealing with the trade fair documents.

So I was able – and allowed – to work more and more independently.

Doing everything right from the start – that was quite hard

The biggest difficulty was certainly the start at the new department, and the start of the new apprenticeship. If you find yourself in a completely new environment with many unfamiliar faces, this can be quite a challenge. I was lucky because I was welcomed with open arms by everyone and could ask anyone for help whenever I did not know what to do.

It was certainly an additional difficulty to have no knowledge whatsoever about Mahlo’s devices when I came to a department where dozens of instruction manuals for those devices have to be compiled every day. Fortunately, I learned things quickly and became better and better so that, after a short time, all this was not a problem any more.

Looking forward to new impressions

Emma in the Accounting Dep.
Emma in her new Department: Accounting

Now, at the beginning of 2017, I have changed my department. I am now working at Accounting, where I will spend the next months of my apprenticeship. For 2017, it is planned that I will later be assigned to Purchase, Production Planning, Spare Parts Management and Repair, among other things.

I am excited about what I can expect in all of those departments and look forward to gaining lots of new experience and impressions this year.


Emma chose the way of what it's called "Industrial clerk" or "Industrial Management Assistant" at Mahlo.

Of course there are a lot more options for young people within the family company.

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We hire!

Mahlo GmbH + Co. KG • Donaustraße 12 • 93342 Saal /Donau
Tel.: +49-9441-601-0 •