Creating a connection
The connection between CIMC Intermodal Equipment and its manufacturing plants in China
has always been a close one, however, early in 2017 CIMC-IE began looking for ways to even further bridge the gap in geographic distance, culture, language and communication with the goal of achieving even greater advances in quality assurance and quality control for our customers. A new program was created called the Manufacturing Beneficial Associates Program (MBA)/Eagle Program, a task force made up of Chinese and American counterparts that organically creates better relationships and free-flowing ideas that lead to the creation of new chassis designs, new production processes, and improved quality control and customer responsiveness.
The concept was simple: a three-person group made up of engineers, quality control associates, and customer service representatives would transfer to the American factory in South Gate, CA (AKA the “Space Station”) for three months, during which time they would learn the North American chassis business, and conversely further educate their American counterparts on all aspects of engineering, design, and manufacturing processes. All the while also creating relationships that would spark innovation and result in the creation of new chassis designs, and new ways for producing them and making them more maintenance free.
Each group of potential new “Astronauts” from Shenzhen first undergo internal interviews and exams before they can be chosen for the program. Once they are chosen, they are given a mission list of goals for them to achieve during their stay and are required to write a weekly report to their managers on what they are learning during their stay. They arrive at the MBA Program offices in South Gate, CA, or the “Space Station” for a three-month period of time and integrate themselves into the day to day activities of the American workers, making themselves readily accessible to answer customer questions and delve further into customer problems so that improvements and corrections can be made. To date, three groups of Astronauts have completed the MBA/Eagle program and attended graduation earning a plaque and “MBA” Certificate.
Building our Future
One of the first astronauts at the launch of the program in March of 2017 was Susan Xing.
Susan was an Operation Specialist at SCVC in Shenzhen when she came to the Space Station and began work with her American counterparts. She recalls this as an “experience of a lifetime” and feels that not only did she achieve the targets set by CIMC but that she gained lifelong friendships and is proud that the relationships between CIMC and their customers have never been so close. Susan has since been promoted to Supervisor of the Operations Team, a promotion she attributes to her time at the Space Station and will allow her even greater customer access and support.
This concept, although simple, has had extraordinary results. The program’s success continues to be measured through improved customer response time, improved chassis design and improved after-sale customer care, and of course, lifelong friendships that will foster an environment of partnership and cooperation that will extend into maintaining and even improving excellent service to our customers.