NO PHONE CALLS, FOCUS ON THE TASK
Bruce’s favorite day of the work week is almost always Thursday. That’s when the team meets in the Obeya room. The technicians at the STIHL plant in Qingdao, China, use this method to resolve important issues that crop up in their working days.
The Obeya method, developed in Japan, is the key to achieving the best results together, according to Bruce. Even after 6 1/2 years, he is still amazed by the “German perfection and the passion for quality at STIHL.”
Bruce has worked in his current position as Design Coordinator at the STIHL plant in the coastal city of Qingdao since 2015. It’s a complex task that requires a great deal of precision. Bruce is responsible for two areas: On the one hand, he makes sure that current chainsaw that are in production are improved bit-by-bit. He is responsible for avoiding problems such as disruptions in production. On the other hand, he also checks the feasibility of the construction drawings from Germany for the production of new tools. So that manufacturing can begin smoothly, he checks every single drawing carefully, anticipating all of the consequences, getting approval for the technicians responsible in the plant and personally signing off on every single drawing.
“I have been here since 2010, and in my new position since 2015. The atmosphere at STIHL is characterized by the spirit of working together for the best solution. Together! That’s key. Because we all communicate directly and are highly solution-oriented, we make good progress as a team.”
One of his first projects as a Design Coordinator was the introduction of the patented ErgoStart technology for the power saws produced in Qingdao. “I remember our key project in 2015 very well. The ErgoStart technology makes it much easier to start a power saw, with minimal effort. For us here, though, that transition took a great deal of effort.” The preparation of the production plant involved numerous tests, many detailed improvements and countless approval steps. The colleagues in product development in Waiblingen as well as external parts suppliers had to be coordinated and brought to the same goal within a tight time frame. “I remember how great it felt when we had finally achieved the start of production within the target and the first products came off the conveyor. And I am proud to have played a key role in this important project.”
Bruce gives off a humble and friendly air. His parents are farmers, cultivating peanuts and wheat near Qingdao. You don’t get rich doing that in China. His parents are proud that their son used all of the opportunities consistently. “When I was a kid, my parents gave me a remote-controlled Formula 1 car. One of those toy cars with a long cable attached to it, so you had to run after it all the time. That’s where my fascination for technology began.” Towards the end of his 12 years of schooling, Bruce chose the technical branch. At university, he specialized in Mechanical Design and Automation. The end of his studies called for a series of technical internships to prepare students for their careers. A number of his fellow students recommended STIHL to Bruce as a potential employer.
On the first day of my internship, I realized that just about everything is different here from the companies I had previously worked at. The cleanliness and perfection in all processes and technical standards were immediately evident. I knew right away: This is where I want to be!”
In 2017, Bruce took part in a job rotation program between Waiblingen and Qingdao that aims at creating even greater understanding for one another between the two locations. While Bruce was in Germany for six weeks, Christian, his German colleague, was be at the plant in China for about eight weeks in order to get a better idea of the production conditions there.
“I learned the most in the past years from my colleagues at STIHL. Both in China and particularly during the exchange with colleagues in Germany. I really benefit from the others’ experience and their willingness to share that knowledge.”
Bruce was welcomed into the team in Germany. With his colleagues, he took a weekend trip to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. “For me as a fan of German technology, that was a real dream come true.” What are his dreams for the future? “I can imagine growing old at STIHL. The company is good to me, and I think I am good for STIHL.”
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