All for One

The DOMINATOR 370 is something special. Not only is it the first CLAAS combine harvester to be made in China, but it also brought together specialists from different countries as part of the SENO project. They impressively demonstrated that the shared commitment to quality at CLAAS turns cultural differences into real strengths.

Weiming Sun began working at CLAAS in September 2015. He served as the project manager of SENO for the CLAAS subsidiary CMS in China. In his view, partnering across national borders, time zones, and different mindsets is an excellent opportunity to learn from one another, which worked ­wonderfully for the SENO project. How? By constantly picking up the pace: “Move from slow to fast,” he says. The better team members know each other, the faster the work as a team proceeds. In his experience, there may be considerable differences between European and Chinese mentalities, but they can complement each other well. “The slowdown that sometimes occurs as a result of German thoroughness is made up for by Chinese speed.”

Sebastian Pleuler started out as an intern at CLAAS back in 2006 while simultaneously pursuing his studies in mechanical engineering. Since October 2016, he has been working at the Chinese site, and at 32 years of age he is already responsible for the industrialization phase of the DOMINATOR 370. The engineer hopes to “build a fantastic machine in China, for China,” as he puts it, and is already thinking about larger unit quantities. The shared desire for success inspires him, and he regards the individuality and difference of each team member as strengths that contribute to the project’s success. “Everyone accepts and respects the way their colleagues work and live.” For him, many tasks can be taken care of through lots of communication – through various channels and based on a common working language.

A new combine harvester needs the perfect cutterbar – that much is clear. Sandor Farkas makes sure of this in his role as department head in Töröks­zentmiklós, Hungary, where CLAAS develops and makes cutterbars. When Sandor Farkas was needed for the DOMINATOR in Gaomi, he was prepared to answer the call and assisted with manufacturing the cutterbar on site. He was extremely impressed by the work ethic and sound preparation of the colleagues in China, as well as by how warmly and openly they interact with one another. Apart from smartphones and other means of communication that have now become standard tools, Sandor Farkas believes that “personal contact in particular” is necessary to build a team. If the partnership embraces a curiosity for the culture of other colleagues, the team can quickly remove any obstacles that stand in the way.

Klaus Rummel is a project manager with almost 30 years of experience at CLAAS. In the SENO project, he serves as the counterpart to his Chinese colleague Weiming Sun. The plans to develop a new series and not just modify an existing one were especially exciting for Klaus Rummel. Just like his colleagues, he thinks communicating face to face is the fastest way to open the doors to success – no matter what cultures clash in the process. He gives an example: “When fastidious German colleagues who stick to processes come together with fellow team members who like to debate and embody the try-it-out-quickly-and-learn-as-you-go mindset from China, you end up focusing on common objectives and values.” Apart from delivering a top product, this focus among all of the colleagues also extends to family life, Klaus Rummel says.

According to Yuehu Zhu, the secret to successful teamwork may sound simple, but it requires a great deal of focus on common objectives. In his view, you have “to truly respect everyone, carefully consider all ideas and suggestions, and respond and judge as objectively as possible.” This is how Yuehu Zhu and his German colleague Christoph Molitor approach all tasks. “For projects like SENO, you have to truly agree on what the common objectives are, at the very least.” One surmountable obstacle, albeit a constant source of misunderstandings, is the language barrier, Yuehu Zhu admits with a smile. That is why he also underscores the importance of English as the common working language

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