The Toughest Jobs in Manufacturing

In the current global emergency, we have directed our focus at Ensto to protecting the health of our employees, securing safe working conditions, and ensuring deliveries to our customers. For example in our Keila factory in Estonia, the positive thing is that so far our operational capacity has not yet been affected by the outbreak, and Ensto team is doing their best to keep their daily work as planned. The current global situation highlights the importance of Ensto's front-line employees who cannot work at home and find a way to come to the factory every day. 

Forty percent of manufacturing employees in Estonia are women, according to national statistics. At Ensto, women work in every part of the company. Here are three who are doing the toughest jobs in manufacturing.

Ensto setters work on the front line of manufacturing. It’s a tough job to set up the equipment, master the machines, keep them running, and solve everyday problems as they arise. Only the best are chosen for this job. We interviewed three setters from our Keila plant, Ave Kiris, Kadi-Kristel Muru, and Kairi Õunapuu.

What are your key tasks and biggest challenges as a setter?

Ave: The setter has to change the molds according to plan, configure machines, and solve problems with defective products. It’s also necessary to know how to start and shut down the machines. This summer I passed the operator-setter exam, and then decided to go further to setter exam. It requires a lot of learning to become a setter.

Kairi: The biggest challenges for me are situations where everything seems to be in order, the material is correct, the tools are right, the measurements correct, but the quality of the product is low. It’s in these situations you may want to turn to colleagues for help. Also, each machine has its own character, and what works with one machine may not produce the same result on another. You can never know everything as a setter – materials change and new products always bring surprises and opportunities to learn.

Is being a woman an advantage or disadvantage in this job?

Kairi: One cannot say that being a woman is an advantage or disadvantage in this job. However, based on my experience, I can say that women and men have different working practices. Men work faster, risk more and, as a result, there is more setup scrap. Women, on the other hand, are more reserved and believe that youmeasure thrice and cut once. . I have also noticed that women are not so afraid to ask for help or advice if they are not sure of something.

Kadi-Kristel: It’s neither and advantage or disadvantage. For me, the most difficult situations at the moment are related to a technical failure of the machine, and I feel that men are just more willing to take it all apart and investigate themselves.

What do male colleagues think of female operators and female colleagues?

Ave: My male colleagues take it well, and many female colleagues are very supportive. However, there are also those who think that a tiny woman is not suitable for this kind of job.

Kadi-Kristel: Those who know that I’m a setter are positive about it. Gender doesn’t matter so much. People are just different.

Kairi: I have not felt much opposition due to my gender. I have worked as a setter in different companies for ten years and I can recall only one time when, after the probation period ended, my trainer admitted that he would have never believed that a woman could do this job. Sometimes I still get these hesitating looks from both men and women, but I have not felt discriminated against. The fact is that it does not matter if the setter is a woman or a man – the main thing is that the job gets done. The team is very important. We’re all here for a common goal and helping each other is natural. I’ve been very lucky with my team at Ensto – from day one I’ve only met friendly people.

What do you do in your spare time?

Ave: Most of my free time I spend with my child. We spend time cooking, playing games, and of course preschool. We try to find time for fishing or camping when it’s warm, or just having a great time in great company.

Kadi-Kristel: I sing in a variety of choirs. I also play ice hockey, but my current schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for these pursuits. I am also active in school, since teach technical drawing to 12th-grade students.

Kairi: I sleep! Actually, I have four kids and love to spend time with my family. We travel in a caravan all over Estonia and Europe during our vacations. I’m also a member of Keila’s women's voluntary defense organization. I also run a cat shelter. There are nine cats – would anyone care to take one?


You can find the three women in the pictures above in the following order: Ave Kiris (Injection Molding Setter), Kadi-Kristel Muru (CNC Milling Setter), Kairi Õunapuu (CNC Milling Setter)