Nordson Corporation

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Continuous Improvement: A Global Affair

CI China 

Nordson's continuous improvement teams recently led training sessions in locations around the world to help employees boost their productivity, problem solve more effectively and streamline their work processes.

Yolanda Yantz, NBS and Lean Six Sigma Training Manager, visited locations in the United States, India, China, Japan and the Netherlands to help employees find ways to simplify their work processes and improve their work lives.

Training was also supported by Six Sigma belts around the world, including Scott Hoover, Six Sigma Blackbelt in the U.S.; Robin Wang, Six Sigma Blackbelt in China; Karsten Ritter, Six Sigma Blackbelt in Germany; Freek Bressers, Six Sigma Greenbelt in the Netherlands and Hiroshi Matsuda,  Six Sigma Greenbelt in Japan.

"We all have problems, and most of them are similar across businesses, cultures and geographies," Yolanda said. While language and culture play an important role in our lives, the same continuous improvement tools can benefit most people worldwide.

"I did learn that you shouldn't use baseball analogies in India, where people are more familiar with cricket," she laughed. "And if you want to get the attention of a room in Europe, start talking about soccer."

But when it comes to work, every team can benefit from adopting continuous improvement mindsets. Through Lean Six Sigma, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, and Design for Manufacturability and Assembly modules, Yolanda's team aims to help employees simplify their work and collaborate more effectively.

"What we're trying to do is to help employees help themselves," she explained. "We want them to make their lives better by themselves or by working with other people."

For Yolanda, continuous improvement is also an endeavor that hits close to home. 

"My parents had a fifth and eighth grade education, but they were smart," Yolanda said. "Continuous improvement tools help people tap into their smartness and their gifts, whether they have a degree or not."

To do that, Yolanda and her team lead groups through activities that make them think in new ways, or expose them to some of the challenges people on their teams face within their different roles.

"One activity we do is to have a group design a doll chair that's eight inches high," Yolanda said. "It should be functional but easy to assemble." Sometimes the person in the design role will create a beautiful chair, but if it's too complex then it will be difficult for the people in assembly roles to recreate it. By replicating the manufacturing process and assigning groups different roles, employees can start to see why it's important to collaborate and problem-solve collectively.

Suprotik Das, Managing Director, said the training Yolanda held at his facility in India was helpful.

 "The team got an excellent introduction to Six Sigma and how one can use this in improving one's every day work," He said. "Yolanda has great communication skills and bonded with the trainees quickly. They, in turn, responded actively to her. It was a very productive experience."

"Everybody wants to do a good job," Yolanda said. "In continuous improvement, we just help them remove the obstacles."