Claude Bourgeois (Welding foreman)

21-04-2020
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Claude Bourgeois joined VDL KTI in 1999 where he started as a welder. Before that he worked for a company in Ghent for eleven years, for which he had to travel a lot. Now it is a luxury to work in his hometown: Mol. Every day Claude can go to work by bike, and has been doing that for 20 years.

From welder to foreman

"I did start as a welder. When our foreman retired, the management was looking for a replacement who knew all the processes and assembly work. And that's how they came to me. I thought about it for two weeks, because you're different in the group after such a job change, and then I said 'yes'. It took, however, two years before I really 'found my feet'. By now I have been working as a welding foreman for almost nine years and fortunately I have the appreciation of my colleagues. I'm strict but fair and don't 'beat about the bush'. You know: honesty is the best policy."

Function

"I supervise processes consisting of the qualification procedure and the qualification of welders. I also review reports and RX photographs of pipes and vessels. In addition, I train employees. A group of colleagues from VDL Technics have been here to follow a welding training course. Very nice, because when I walk around Boxtel, it's like 'Hey Claude, what's up? Training is the most enjoyable aspect of my job; guiding colleagues and conveying my experience".

Special orders

"The welding engineer informs me about the preparation (in connection with special materials) and then we do tests. I look at how long it takes for the product to be ready and, in consultation with the welding engineer, what welding temperature is required. On top of that, I look at what precision is required and which welder can best be called in".

Missing shop floor

"Sometimes I miss the shop floor, even though I got a lot of other things in return. I still do some of the things I liked to do myself. Like welding electrodes. Unfortunately I do need glasses for that now ;-)."

Future

"I am satisfied with my job and I'd like to stay as welding foreman. It is very nice to be able to contribute to products with a certain level of difficulty. Besides, making a planning is very challenging. Everything has to be right and fit together."

Author interview: Joëlle van den Heuvel
Translation: Shirley Cuypers