13.03.2024 / Philipp Bär/Noël Blumenstein

We’re currently at an Exciting Intersection

Philipp Bär and Noël Blumenstein have a lot in common. Both of them are 26 years old. They grew up in the same village. They have both done apprenticeships as automation engineers (Philipp Bär even did his apprenticeship at Müller Martini). Both of them now work as electrical engineers at Müller Martini – Philipp Bär in the saddlestitching and book sewing sector, Noël Blumenstein in the perfect binding sector. Both of them have completed further training to earn engineering diplomas in HF information technology with a specialization in system technology. And – how could it be otherwise – they wrote their dissertation together. Learn more about these two exciting professionals at Müller Martini in this blog.
We think that the job of electrical engineers is cool – for several reasons.
  • First of all, we have a great responsibility, to ensure not only that the machines run, but especially that they run safely. Today, machine safety depends largely on electrical controls and components. For that reason, new regulations are constantly being laid down, for example a safety PLC (programmable logic controller – formerly a safety relay) that requires regular software validation.
  • Secondly, our job requires innovative thinking, particularly with regard to enhancing the machines. The goal is to keep making operation easier and also more customer-friendly – for example, with easy input on touchscreens.
  • Thirdly, we work at an exciting intersection between software developers, machine designers, and production employees. Therefore, our field of activity is broad, and we interact with many colleagues from different disciplines.
  • Fourthly, we appreciate that Müller Martini gives us a lot of latitude so that we can put forth our own ideas and innovative solutions and then make them a reality.
  • And last but not least, we enjoy serving as supervisors for trainees. Given the current scarcity of trained employees, we think it’s important for Müller Martini to promote young talents. Therefore, training young people in the electrical planning sector is a focal point of our daily work, along with enhancing and optimizing our products.
Because our jobs are so varied, no one day is like another. Of course, we work on the computer a lot, but we also attend a lot of project-specific meetings with other electrical engineers, or spend time in assembly and in the testing hall.
We are both active in the electrical design sector, but because we work in different machine sectors, we don’t work together very much. However, as we’ve known each other a long time, we always eat lunch together. Because we complement each other and we get along well, we often worked together on school projects.
Joint training and dissertation
We both studied at the TEKO Swiss Technical College Olten, where in the course of six semesters, we pursued professional training to earn engineering diplomas in HF information technology with a specialization in system technology. We successfully completed this additional training in November 2023.
It was clear to us early on that we would work together to write the 100-page diploma dissertation, in which we invested about six weeks and 500 hours, and for which Müller Martini allowed us to work half-days. Our dissertation examines the topic of container virtualization for edge controllers. Edge controllers are the link between Müller Martini’s machine controllers and the customer’s network or Müller Martini’s central servers. The problem with edge controllers is their maintenance. If there’s an update to an application installed on an edge controller, it’s necessary to access each edge controller individually via remote access.
Currently, our customers are using about 200 edge controllers – and there are about 50 new computers each year. That means a linear increase in the maintenance effort, tying up valuable resources that are urgently required elsewhere. Our aim in creating our proof of concept was to establish whether this maintenance effort can be reduced by using container virtualization.
Incorporation into the customer’s network
First, we took stock of the current situation. Among other things, we examined incorporation into the customer’s network, the hardware used, and installed software, as well as the startup workflow and maintenance. Then we focused on researching suitable container runtime environments and the associated orchestrations. We checked the final concept with a risk assessment followed by a subsequent prevention strategy, then we had it approved by specialists.
For a test run, we created a simulation environment for a cluster. It consisted of two edge controllers as clients and a laptop as a server. Through various tests, we were able to check the effectiveness and interplay between the container virtualization and the orchestration.
Very technical, but not just theoretical
The tests demonstrated that the essential functions of the proof of concept – the proof that it is possible – were fulfilled. The applications could first be containerized with dockers and then orchestrated with Nomad. This provides a good starting point for enhancing the technologies in the next step.
Of course, it probably sounds very technical to readers, but it’s natural that it does; we’re electrical engineers. When we reached the project phase, it was anything but theoretical, for we were able to discuss our work with various departments at Müller Martini to see whether they had suitable projects for implementation in a diploma dissertation.
We were always able to split up the work very well. Thus, in the design phase, Noël was responsible for the container environment and Philipp for the orchestration; in the implementation phase, Noël handled the Linux containers and Philipp the Windows containers. In the implementation phase, we worked together on the Nomad orchestration and the tests.
The six weeks we spent working on the dissertation were quite intense. That’s why we were so happy that we received a good grade. And we were happy that the company invited us to lunch after we were all done.
An exciting peek “over the fence”
In terms of our daily work, our dissertation wasn’t actually that productive. However, it gave us an exciting peek "“over the fence” into a new department. The planning and didactic procedure of such an extensive project is always helpful. And the additional training will open up new opportunities for our future careers.
We can definitely recommend starting your career at Müller Martini. Learn more on our career portal Shape the Future – we are particularly on the lookout for qualified electrical engineers!
Sincerely yours,
Philipp Bär/Noël Blumenstein
Electrical engineers at Müller Martini
You can also read more about Philipp Bär in this blog post on Müller Martini’s website!
13.03.2024 Philipp Bär/Noël Blumenstein Electrical engineers at Müller Martini