Everybody on the same page

Everybody on the same page

Bettie Boonstra, component placer, VDH Products

Started at Philips

“I dropped out of school early and got a job. That's how it went when you grew up in a large family. I started in assembly at PEN Controls, and then got a job in the Component Placement department at Philips. First you were tested and trained, because you had to be able to work with two hands at the same time. You had to install small components and resistors. So there we were, whole rows of girls in a big hall placing components on circuit boards. I met my husband at Philips. We had children and then, again because that was the way things went at the time, I stopped working."

A job at VDH

“When the children were older, I decided to go back to work. After a number of different jobs, I started working at VDH in Roden. That wasn't even through a job vacancy. Urged on by my husband, I got in the car, drove to Roden and asked for an interview. When they heard about my knowledge and experience and saw what I could do, I was hired straight away. That was 21 years ago.”

Component placement more suited to women

“I like the intricate work, the electronics, the soldering. Component placement is real women's work, probably because women have finer fingers. And the great thing about VDH is that so many different products literally pass through your hands. You know what everything you make is for, such as ventilation systems in schools, installations in ships and paint shops, milking machines and fruit ripening installations. The component placement department here is a small and easygoing. Not too easygoing of course, because you have to focus on what you’re doing.”

Initials on the printed circuit board

“Besides fine hands, the work requires a lot of concentration. We install the larger components (such as ELCOs and LEDS) and then run the printed circuit board through the soldering machine or solder the components by hand. We put our initials on the printed circuit boards that we have assembled and tested so that they can be traced in case of errors. But if you place a component with the plus and minus wrong, you’ll see that straight away during testing. And then we'll just replace it.”


“Occasionally, an old printed circuit board comes along and then you need to read a manual to find out what to do. Most of the work nowadays is in Assembly-X, a super handy program in which you can see every step in the process on screen. That's useful for different types of work here. I enjoy that, one day you do this and the next day something else. And although more and more is being done by the SMD machine, some things will always have to be done by humans.”

It's not massive here

“The atmosphere is great here at VDH. It is not a massive place, you know each other and you talk to everyone. I’ll happily keep doing this job until I’m 67, I really like it. Yet I always tell interns that they should finish school. And they get a nice mug from me to take home.”