Internship behind the adidas brand: Invaluable technical, soft skills and understanding
“adidas is All In”: Millions of people worldwide know this brand and tag line: A select few get to contribute to making it a global household name.
That’s exactly what I did during my summer internship at Tsang Yih, which manufactures six million pairs of footwear annually for adidas at its Myanmar factory. I’m Tun Tun Oo, a Tsang Yih-Hinrich Global Trade Leader studying Global Production Engineering and Management at Vietnamese-German University.
As team leader of the Technology Deployment (TD) team, Manufacturing Excellence (ME) Department, I gained valuable insight into manufacturing best practice, cross-cultural communication and business processes. Plus, I have developed strong working relationships with my future colleagues.
The TD team is mainly responsible for running automated machines such as the auto cutting machine, automated guided vehicle (AGV), 2D Plasma machine, 3D Plasma machine and auto screen printing machines. My role on the TD team included creating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Weekly Reports and Technology Tracking Monthly Reports.
As a team leader, my responsibilities included acting as liaison to adidas customers, coordinating information flow between different departments, and communicating frequently with machine suppliers to maintain complex automated machines on the factory floor. I also worked closely with the cutting department supervisor to increase component ratio of auto cutting machines and maximize the OEE percentage. As an engineering management intern, I provided technical training to operators on how to use automated guided vehicle (AGV) to transport shoe components from cutting machines to a supermarket area.
In addition to the skills I learned directly through my role, every Saturday the Manufacturing Excellence (ME) manager conducted trainings for ME staff, translators, and Person-in-charge from the production department. ME training included 6S system training, a lean manufacturing tool to promote efficient and safe working environments. Through these trainings, I also learned about waste in manufacturing, kanban, visual management, kaizen, OEE, project management, and more.
From L-R (Front): Taylor (Tun’s supervisor during the internship), Tun (Hinrich Scholar 2018) and ME department at the Thadingyut Festival in Myanmar
Another aspect of work that shaped my experience at Tsang Yi was working with Information Technology (IT). During my internship, I found I lacked IT skills – it is difficult to understand how wired and wireless network link in large corporations having no prior experience with IT networking technology.
However, IT skills are necessary for TD teams to be successful because automated machines must be technologically sophisticated to connect with a company network. Fortunately, most technical issues were resolved by the IT team and machine suppliers during the implementation of centralized nesting system – and I learned more IT skills in the process.
Working with the IT team built my confidence not only working with technology, but also communicating in a multicultural environment. From my point of view, cross-department and intercultural communication skills are critical because many teams (the ME department in particular) are involved in multiple processes within the factory. This internship allowed me many opportunities to communicate amongst people with various roles and backgrounds.
When communicating with foreign supervisors from the production department, however, language became a barrier. Even though we used mobile translation apps or human translators, it was not efficient. Therefore, because of this experience, I have been inspired to learn Chinese to expand my future possibilities.
I would like to say thanks to Tsang Yih Company and Hinrich Foundation for this opportunity. I believe that this internship is a great foundation for my future career.
About the author – Tun Tun Oo (Myanmar, Vietnamese-German University, MSc in Global Production Engineering & Management ’20)
Tun Tun Oo is a master’s student studying Global Production Engineering and Management at Vietnamese-German University. He worked as an installation engineer for Barons & Fujikura EPC Co., Ltd. for two years, managing subcontractor for fiber metro network, doing fiber optics splicing and optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) testing, drawing survey route design, and calculating material usage at project assigned. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Aerospace – Avionics from Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University in 2016.