This is how my day started. Lying precariously underneath a 400kg boulder in Germany. I had pictured many things of the inside of the Dräger headquarters, however this was not one of them. The point of this was that it was a lesson in trust. Due to the nature of the items that Dräger develops and manufactures, a lot of people put their trust in Dräger. Today, they asked me to put my trust in them.
I actually think this is a great idea. As an occupational hygienist I’d like to take around my own portable boulder to work sites sometimes!
Bernd escorted me for a tour around the Dräger factory which was amazing. Even more amazing was that Bernd wanted me to feel at home, so he had purposely worn the shirt he got recently from Uluru – nice touch!
The first thing that was apparent to me, was the fact that actual people are used in the making of sensors and gas detectors. No seriously, I honestly thought most of it would have been through a large production chain. The problem with that method (as I was quickly told) is that you begin to lose out on the high standard of quality you need, as quality assurance (ie: inspections) are performed along every single aspect of the process at Dräger.
Over 700,000 electrochemical sensors were manufactured by Dräger last year, and even though the process is still very much man-made, they can churn these things out with incredible speed. Everyone was also very happy…this was something I also didn’t expect from within a manufacturing environment.
I saw the inner workings of an oxygen sensor, a carbon monoxide sensor, and even the process behind the sensors for breath alcohol testing. When Bernd realised how excited I got when faced with the inner workings of an oxygen sensor, he gave me my very own keepsake. Best. Day. Ever.
The tour them turned to the various test and inspection process points that their equipment must follow in order to be let out to market. I can’t remember all of the processes….let’s just say that there are a lot!
We then went to see how the various items of PPE are manufactured. Everything from respirators, cartridges, and chemical protective clothing. I was to learn that Dräger have a lot of top-secret ingredients and processes. For example, somehow they can dramatically increase the surface area of carbon used in their respirators to make them more efficient using a special Dräger method. It’s sort of like KFC or Coke…only a handful of people know. I like the secrecy!
From there I was treated to a guided forum tour…which wasn’t exactly your ordinary tour of a facility. It was like walking into a science museum, only that the subject matter was entirely relevant to me…and, once again, awesome. In addition to the things that I associate Dräger with (gas detectors, mines rescue, PPE etc), they also make a large amount of equipment for hospitals. From the equipment you see in intensive care, neonatal care, operating theaters, ambulances, and everything in between, they make it.
I was then treated to a visit to the Dräger Test Centre. That place is a scientists dream. From radio-frequency, to acoustics, to chemical and biochemical testing it has it all, and then some. It’s also an amazing building filled with natural light and a great collaborative atmosphere.
Today was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and one I will remember forever – thank you Dräger!