Meet the Top 100 Manufacturer 2020 Exemplars: Kati Gastrow

The TOP100 manufacturer is an annual celebration of one hundred people working in the UK manufacturing industry making a significant impact. As we ask you to nominate someone you think deserves to be recognized this year, we look back on some of our 2020 winners.

The TOP100 manufacturer pays homage to people who go the extra mile in the manufacturing industry. Registration is now open to nominate someone you think deserves to be recognized in 2021. As we look forward to the announcement of this year’s winners at Digital Manufacturing Week 2021 in Liverpool in November, we are back. on some of our 2020 Exemplar Award winners. Each year a number of TOP100 are chosen by our jury for special recognition, we call them “copies”.

Kati Gastrow Global Engineering Manager – Robotics and Automation, Unilever

Kati was influenced by talented parents and an extended family who from an early age encouraged her to create and build things with her hands. Kati’s mother taught her to sew, to create a 3D structure from 2D fabric pieces, to practice using a machine, to follow and to customize patterns. This gave Kati the confidence from the start in designing and trying new things. One holiday, her father took the family to a bus factory in Germany where a young Kati got to see the different stages of building a bus, complete with its engine, cables and windows. These episodes all helped open his mind.

In their own words

What is your favorite engineered / manufactured product?

I’m a big fan of the Starship robots, the 6-wheeled delivery robots that are deployed on the streets of Milton Keynes.

Please give an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know about.

I dropped out of a Bachelor of Arts to get into electronics engineering.

If you weren’t in manufacturing, what would your dream job be?

It would be a job that would combine vertical agriculture, nature conservation and law.

However, it wasn’t until the age of 19 that she considered a career in engineering. While undertaking translation work at a German machine builder during his school vacation, translating electronic parts lists from German to English, a senior engineer read Kati’s (fairly literal) translations and said: “I can see from this that you have no idea what the components are, do you? It turned out that “Netzteil” was not a “network part”, but in fact a “power supply”. Coming soon
subsequently, Kati changed her degree in translation studies to a degree in electronic engineering.

Kati joined Unilever’s robotics and automation team in 2019 to deepen the robotics needed to manufacture Unilever’s consumer products. This gives her a chance to bring together experience from previous roles in control systems, personal care products, and food manufacturing. Kati says, “It also prompts me to think bigger and on a bigger scale. As a company, Unilever has a strong commitment to sustainability and targeted products, and I want my work to help reduce our impact on the environment. “

For Kati, manufacturing is a socio-technical team sport. “The results depend on the composition of the team and the competent use of technology. Being able to take an idea from the sketch to the system put into service, and seeing actual products being assembled on a line is an extremely rewarding process. It takes imagination, logic, courage and above all a sense of humor!

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