Nicolai Hessner, 32
R&D Project Manager, Berry Superfos
Nicolai Hessner studied mold making and engineering at the Skive Technical School in Denmark and held an apprenticeship as a mold maker at Idé-Pro Skive A/S, which produces prototype molds and parts for the technical plastics industry.
"As I see myself as a passionate nerd and have a great interest in seeking out new knowledge that can complement my experience and mold industry could fulfill this to perfection," Hessner said.
Hessner went on to hold roles as a mold maker and mold engineer apprentice at Idé-Pro. In 2014, he worked as a mold engineer in research and development at Kellpo A/S, which offers circular packaging solutions, and then became an R&D project manager in 2017 at Berry Superfos, a Berry Global Group Inc. company that manufactures sustainable high-quality injection molded plastic packaging for food and nonfood products.
Asked what moment in his career has been his greatest achievement, Hessner named several projects. Highlights include a five-point inlet container with a 44 percent weight savings on plastic; a mold standardization program for new production cells; the development of Paintainer Excellence, increasing the drop test performance; and a new site in Winchester, Va., with the main goal of increasing overall equipment effectiveness on four production lines.
His current challenge is a project for McDonald's/Havi, where he has been the technical support for the Superfos management team.
He got involved to solve a pilot mold "to show off Berry Superfos' strength in the current packing business where quality and lead time should show [they] could trust on us." The pilot mold was solved "quite fast," with Havi having the product in four weeks and Hessner was in charge of 3D construction of the mold, order and sample.
"This project [has] been a constant moving development due to the demands have been changing all year, mainly due to the testing of the product into stores is ongoing as we speak," Hessner said. "This means that we in [the] past year ... have developed to incorporate an embed RFID into design and that's not something world [has] seen before."
What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Hessner: I have made many failures through my work and personal life, and for sure some of them was really big at the time I did them, one of the first costly fails [was at] the company I worked, Idé-Pro. It happened right after I got my education done as a toolmaker and I made a technical change in a mold in five-axis CNC [computer numerical control] machine where I made a collision due to wrong programming. The total damage was over 25,000 euros ($28,000) for mold/machine repair, and I remember when I [went to] my boss and tell him what happened, my former boss just looked at me and said, "I wondered what day you will make a mistake," and laughed, "Now you need to work here for the next two years to cover off the damage."
The main thing I learned from this: I need … to have the hunger to stay on top. If I get [too comfortable] I start to slack and make mistakes.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Hessner: If you fail yesterday, learn from it, but don't allow it to affect tomorrow.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Hessner: Be passionate and give all you have, then you will be in front of the curve and that will make your work life more exciting.