In my last blog entry I told you about how at MANN+HUMMEL we are continuously working to improve our processes and utilise as yet untapped potential for growth. For me this means sharing our knowledge about processing and further processing of plastics with our colleagues around the world and thereby promoting a ‘best practice’ strategy that can be implemented globally. Today I would like to use a specific example to offer you a broad insight into this concept.

Knowledge sharing as the key to success

A few weeks ago we met up with colleagues from America, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Germany, in Mexico, or Querétaro to be precise. The city is located in central Mexico at an altitude of approx. 1600 m. With nearly one million inhabitants and an impressive architectural landscape, the city provides a varied backdrop for any gathering.

The main focus of our visit, however, was the ‘Center of Excellence’ (CoE) for Polymer Processing. We discussed and explored subjects such as leadership, best practices, collaborative networks, expert competences (the Train the Trainer concept) and of course we also talked about knowledge sharing and expansion – a focus area that is extremely relevant. The continuous sharing of knowledge creates a ‘living’ global network, which strengthens the sense of being part of a team and makes us available to others as a global point of contact. Discussing our activities also helps us to view and reflect on them from a different perspective. And this in turn helps us to constantly improve the focus of our activities.

In order to better understand the benefits and outcomes of such meetings, we also keep in mind that the majority of them are strategic. The subjects and tasks can always be assigned to the three major priority areas for a lead team: innovation, support and improvement (ISI). The ISI concept focuses equally on the central function of all lead team activities within the global environment. This also forms the content of current activities. At the next F2F meeting in Ludwigsburg in May 2017, the content of the ISI concept will be described in a clearer, more focused manner. It can essentially be said that all of our activities are geared, first and foremost, towards our corporate objectives of NMS (non-material savings) and operational excellence.

Injection moulding training at MANN+HUMMEL in Mexico

The meeting was followed by our first training event on site in Mexico. Unsurprisingly, this met with keen interest from our colleagues and was therefore attended by participants from several different divisions of the company. The practical implementation of theoretical approaches was a great opportunity for many MANN+HUMMELers, whether from Operations, Maintenance or Quality and Process Engineering. As I am responsible for planning and implementing these types of training events, I always try to use a healthy mix of theory and practice to make it both an educational and exciting experience. But what does ‘injection moulding training’ actually entail?

This training mainly centres around the validation of the tool-machine-material combination. This is based on the systematic sampling process for injection moulding tools, which is transferable and valid for all our plastic products. The relevance of this approach stems from the quality that is required for all products, regardless of the production location. Building on this awareness, the system itself is then communicated too. This training plan might sound very simple at first, but it requires a lot of preparation and, above all, flexibility. This is because, if you interact with people in an open and respectful manner, then different groups of people, different levels of knowledge, and new materials, tools and machines will not pose any problems.

Speaking of machines, we had two new Wittmann Battenfeld injection moulding machines available for the training in Mexico, which had been procured for our Mexican plant on the basis of our new machine specification. This enabled us to successfully demonstrate the theory taught in practice. I was actively supported on the machines by our core team member from Portage, who was also available to answer questions and provide explanations. All the participants praised the detailed planning of the training event and its successful implementation, and I was extremely pleased to receive uniformly positive feedback from colleagues around the world. The content of the training is now seen by everyone as added value as part of day-to-day production.