01.10.2018 10:10

Round the World on Behalf of OSB AG

Working for OSB AG is exciting. Just how exciting is shown by an impressive travel report from two employees at the Leipzig location. Tino Oelke, Consultant Equipment Engineering and Frank Schneider, Junior Consultant Equipment Engineering, recently traveled to China and the US for OSB AG. They reveal their experiences here in their travel diary.

During the course of an external machine start-up, we – Tino Oelke and Frank Schneider – had the opportunity to travel abroad. This was at the beginning of May 2018. First we spent four weeks in Wuxi, China, before directly moving on to a 4-week assignment in Charleston, USA. After that, we enjoyed a week’s vacation, including a road trip from Charleston to Miami. Then it was time to return to Germany, where our world trip ended.

First stop: China

The first destination was Wuxi in the Jiangsu province, a medium-sized metropolis with 6.5 million inhabitants and located around 100 km away from Shanghai. The customer was a Chinese joint venture company. The machine was a sub-segment of a production line for injection valves for car gasoline engines.

For a weekend excursion we went to Shanghai, where we did some sightseeing, including a visit to the viewing platform of the Shanghai Tower, the second highest building in the world. Besides this, we also visited the huge Buddha statue known as “Grand Buddha at Ling Shan” and toured the surrounding temples. We came away with many impressions of this completely different world. One thing we noticed about China was the great hospitality and the open culture there. Particularly in the evening you see people sitting together in public places singing karaoke and dancing. And it doesn’t seem to bother anyone if three different types of music are playing in the same area. The sheer density of the population is also seen on the excellently organized public transport system. Here, too, there is little privacy. 

Completely normal: Cashless payment via an app

One highlight of our trip to China was the food in the canteen and restaurants, which we can only describe as unique, unusual and partly very spicy. Another impressive aspect was the high level of technology in many areas of daily life. For instance, cashless payment using apps is completely normal practice everywhere, with cash taking on a secondary role. However, no matter how advanced technological progress is, the bad air in the city was often clearly noticeable, even though the majority of Chinese drive electric scooters. Something we as Europeans also had to get used to was the air conditioning systems found everywhere.

China’s Internet is largely separated from the western world by the Great Firewall. Only with the aid of special apps was communication via WhatsApp, Facebook and Co. possible. The Chinese seem to like everything that is bizarre and colorful. You sometimes get the feeling that they would like to lead a western lifestyle, but have to struggle with cultural burdens of the past as well as overpopulation. 

On the work side, we faced real challenges when it came to project-related interaction with other trades and companies as well as to completing the final acceptance run within the specified project schedule and a tight timeframe. The machine needed to be brought into an operational and safe state, and machine know-how had to be conveyed to our Chinese colleagues to enable them to take over the operation thereof. For us, this meant being accompanied the entire time by Chinese employees as we worked, so that they could learn how to to operate the machine. In so doing, a personal distance of less than 50 cm was necessary, as each of our actions was closely observed.

Second destination: Charleston, USA

Our second destination was Charleston in South Carolina, which is a medium-sized historical city on the east coast of the USA with approx. 130,000 inhabitants. There, we put another segment of the production line for injection valves into operation. 

At our customer’s plant there were many German-speaking employees, which quickly created a feeling of home. However, even here we were faced with the same challenges as in China, namely interdisciplinary interaction with other trades and companies under tight time constraints. Our priority was to complete the final acceptance run within the specified timeframe. However, the start-up of the machine unexpectedly presented us with even greater problems than in China. Ultimately, though, we managed to get this up and running on schedule. 

Stopover at Cape Canaveral

During our leisure time, we visited the museum aircraft carrier “USS Yorktown” and went to some fantastic beaches to cool down in the Atlantic, which had a temperature of 27 °C. An unforgettable experience during our road trip to Miami was the stopover at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Here we saw the Atlantis space shuttle and the Saturn V rocket that enabled the Americans to make the first manned landing on the Moon. Coming face to face with these historic technical achievements made our engineering hearts beat just that little bit faster! 

Our impressions are marked by the very friendly, open and relaxed manner of the locals, as well as by the summer, sun, beach and palm trees. Besides that, we were impressed by the laid-back lifestyle, the “American way of life”. In particular, we liked the attitude of trying to lead a stress-free life. This is achieved to a considerable extent by going out to eat together in restaurants, as the typical American likes to do. 

Our summary

All in all, it was valuable and enriching for us to experience two very different cultures, which nevertheless have many things in common. Both are very friendly and open toward guests, encouraging dialog and exchange of experience. 

Frank and Tino

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