A new milestone in the history of Thomas has been set: the production site in Asia has opened. But how do you actually start a production facility that is around 8,800 kilometers away from your home location? Above that in times of the corona pandemic?
September 27th was a great day for Thomas: the Kunshan factory started its production. One million valves a year will soon be manufactured here. A few days after the company’s 60th anniversary and about 10 years after the opening of the sales office in Shanghai, this day marks a special milestone in the company’s history. With the new production, Thomas will be even closer to the customers in the future, can optimally serve local needs and react to requirements even faster.
The challenges of the project are discussed in the video „Thomas Quality in Herdorf and Kunshan: Two places – one team“. In addition, Johannes Alessio, Director Project Management in the Off Highway Solutions division and Project Manager Localization, describes the process – from the selection of the location at the end of 2020 to the involvement of a wide variety of departments and the derivation of production processes to the role of intercultural workshops, online meetings and virtual training courses.
Oliver Smécz, Senior Quality Expert in the Off Highway Solutions area and Quality sub-project manager, and Frank Heer, Industrial Engineer Operations and project manager responsible for topics such as site construction, logistics, supply chain and fixture construction, also provide personal insights into questions of intercultural communication, know-how-transfers and last but not least the role of virtual techniques. With the help of augmented reality glasses seen in the video, employees from Herdorf were able to look over the shoulders of their Chinese colleagues during the construction, commissioning and testing of the system and assist in real time.
Exciting insights into the Kunshan localization project
Project participants at Thomas talk about their experiences in setting up the new factory in Kunshan near Shanghai.(Original language version: German)
With great commitment and an incredible team spirit, the team, consisting of Chinese and German colleagues, defied the numerous challenges – not only the pandemic, with lockdowns and travel bans, but also a shortage of semiconductors and disrupted supply chains. Thomas warmly welcomes all new employees in China to the Thomas family. Without the help of supporters and partners – but especially those employees from the headquarter in Herdorf and the sales office in China, this localization project could not have been implemented in less than two years.
Although Kunshan and Herdorf are many flight hours apart, a unique connection was created between the two locations, thanks to international teamwork and state-of-the-art technology.