“R&D Specialty Tires? That experienced crew that does their own thing back at river in Stöcken – right?”, many people asked me smiling when I first started my job two years ago. Back at the time I just replied with a frown.
Soon, I was to find out more about the work in R&D Commercial Specialty Tires (CST) and the prejudice turned out to be partially true. A small, yet fast growing team benefiting of years of experience, fast communication between Quality, Product Development, Customer Service, Product Industrialization and Manufacturing, hence all on the same floor. Each one represented by a handful of people.
The result: quick reaction times, rare bureaucracy and indecisive passion for your product. CST is covering a product portfolio from solid tires and pneumatic tires in the segments for mining, earth moving, material handling and agriculture. A broad range to be covered with a small number people.
As the department grew rapidly, several newcomers, including myself, joined the team and the need for standardization and processes became obvious to cope with the fast growing zoo of articles. I noticed that the growing team, portfolio, joint activities with our truck development and successful internal marketing was followed by a quick evolvement of the CST reputation in the rest of the R&D Tires division.
Myself, coming straight from the R&D Tires Trainee Pool, I was amazed by the Freedom to Act and the amount of responsibility placed into my daily work. Covering the broad activity range from tire development, industrialization tasks and the involvement into quality topics – starting with day one. Yet, that was only 50% of my task.
The remaining 50% were filled with activities entitled as field application engineering, focusing on global port applications. In order to understand this unique tire segment site visits were inevitable, resulting in 30+ trips to ports on five continents. 30+ interesting views on port business, 30+ different setups and 30+ different sets of tire requirements were only the result of my observations, not too mention all the port we did not look at.
We started wrapping our heads around this business to handle the complexity of 30++ ports to eventually supply the best fit product portfolio.
And the variety of jobs was not to end with these items. A four months stay in the tire plant of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia completed the insight into the tire from the cradle to the grave. Now, I had the entire chain from product requirements and business plan through development, production, marketing and after sales covered, which is hardly possible anywhere else besides CST.
I am glad that I was part of this evolution were colleagues now stopped asking funny questions about CST. However, for me the questions won’t stop, not so much about the Where? rather the Why? will be the one that puzzles people, when telling that my next destination will be a three year stay in a plant in China.