On our way to achieving our vision of ‘Leadership in Filtration’, we are constantly working to improve our processes and looking to exploit untapped growth potential. This is the work ethos employed by both myself and the team I belong to – the Injection Molding & Welding Lead Team (IMLT), part of Global Production. Here we are working to develop, among other things, a best practice strategy for the processing and further processing of plastics (injection moulding and plastic welding technologies), with a view to global implementation. While this may sound complicated to begin with, it is essentially a simple step towards homogenising and optimising country-specific processes on a global scale.

Creating an international communication platform

We are using various interactive spaces to communicate and promote these goals. Firstly, we are arranging face-to-face meetings. These provide the opportunity for participants to directly discuss current topics such as quality, planned and ongoing innovation projects and new best practice approaches. It is in this arena that new standards, process innovations and best practices are presented and adopted. These meetings are complemented by regular training sessions, designed to define and explain the theory behind the standardised approach. They also include practical training either in the IMLT technical centre in Ludwigsburg, or globally on site, working on series machinery or projects as part of a process optimisation.

With these, we are also seeking to create a platform for the personal exchange of expertise and to improve the communication of Core Team Members (CTM) both with each other and with the Lead Team champion. In order to facilitate this worldwide exchange of expertise, there is a designated CTM team in each plant, acting as a local representative of the IMLT on site – the ‘voice of IMLT’ if you will. The CTM team is therefore the point of contact for questions relating to injection moulding and welding matters within the respective plant.

Of course, worldwide exchange of this kind continues to present various new challenges due to the different languages spoken and varying perspectives. Fundamentally, however, efforts are being made in the international environment to speak with one voice. In our case, this primarily applies to internal communication, but is just as relevant to communication with customers as, above all, we are standardising our production processes for global implementation. What exactly does this mean? Well, essentially, it means different people working with different materials at different locations towards the same project. Despite these varying factors, there is just one ultimate goal behind everything.

Teamwork knows no bounds

At the moment, one global meeting is held per year with three regional meetings in the regions of Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. This international scope also requires communication at an international level; which is why English is generally the language used. Because this does not allow us to eliminate all language barriers, training sessions and/or meetings are simultaneously interpreted directly into the relevant national language by the local process expert from the Core Team network. This should bring all participants closer together and foster a sense of community, regardless of their nationality and background. Respect and openness play a fundamental role here as this inter-cultural context provides a great opportunity to learn from and with each other. The concept of teamwork in terms of global networking is at the core of our meetings and sessions.

One thing I am happy to add is this: Knowledge grows when shared or, to put it another way, nobody can know everything, but the sum knowledge of a group is always greater than the knowledge of any one individual within a group. Our internal know-how is based on the experiences of each individual. The results of these meetings and training sessions not only make an important contribution to the growth of our company, they also offer all participants ongoing opportunities for further development.

For me, another area of focus lies in continually improving the training sessions, for which I wrote the current standards. Feedback from colleagues helps me to better plan/prepare and optimise the training content and procedures, as well as the organisation itself and specific details thereof. I, too, will keep this in mind as I return to planning the forthcoming meetings; after all, we have a lot planned for 2017, including meetings with colleagues in Mexico, Germany and India, so there is certainly much work to be done!