Consultant of Tianjin Tenax Industrial Plastics Co. Ltd.
From 2015 for three years I assisted Tianjin TENAX Industrial Plastics Co. Ltd. a subsidiary of TENAX Spa, Italian leader of extruded mesh products.
At the production facility I have solved critical production, maintenance and performance issues. Far away from the mother company the local team needed guidance to solve problems ranging from PLC automation to mechanical repair of large components, or refurbishment, installation and calibration of precision instruments.
Many years of experience working with Chinese colleagues were my magic asset in a mission that saw others fail before me.
At times it is very tricky to understand the mentality and the way people approach technical knowledge in Asia and in China especially.
One may feel frustrated when apparently things don't happen according to common sense but according to something that seems a very complicated way of thinking or maybe even bad faith. In fact all happens for very good reasons. Sometimes those reasons are not very clear to western eyes while are crystal clear to the locals.
It is easy to fall into clichés and that does not help solving problems because puts the blame on the group without analysing the dynamics within it.
Hierarchy is very important, for example. It is probably true that the stress Chinese put on hierarchical roles comes from education and that the education style has to do with the need of leading a large population and large groups to accomplish complex tasks together, but that does not imply any lack of capability, on the contrary it brings huge resources available to the one able to coordinate the group.
So, when no one around you moves to help when you ask them and you think they are lazy or they are against you, the one making a mistake is you because you should ask to their leader and agree in advance who will do and what. If you do it right you will have tens of hands working for you and people happy to have helped a master achieving together a great result.
But it is not always so easy because problem may also happen within people and those problem are the most difficult to solve. You may make an enemy by simply pointing out an error in front of subordinates. Again one needs to understand the complex system of roles and relations to assure that all tension defuse early enough to avoid bad consequences.
All in all it was a very interesting experience, I learned the local nuances of Chinese civilisation as well as, quite uncommon for an IT guy, new skills and techniques working with mechanics, electricians, process experts on machinery I never saw before.