“Carbonated Soft Drink” takes me around the world

1 – Chocolate takes me around the world
2 – Beer takes me around the world
3 – Sludge takes me around Warrington

In this the fourth series of where work takes me around the world.

My latest work travel takes me to a carbonated soft drinks factory in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This is exciting because it is more than 9 months since my last trip oversea and the first one since I’ve re-joined the company. From a work point of view, I am exciting to get away from the stress of the work I have in the UK. I love to escape and work in a different country, experience new things.

From a photography point of view, I am even more exciting to bring my new camera the Sony A6000 there. I will be heading to the capital Sofia where there are lots of historical buildings and sites to photograph. And luckily I will have a couple of days of free time for bit of sightseeing too and maybe some model shoots!

The site has also promised free and unlimited supply of soft drinks while we are there!!!

Now that I am back in the UK. I was lucky enough to have arranged 3 photoshoots while in Sofia. They were awesome models and I am really happy with all three shoots, some cracking shots too. To see more of my photos, please visit my photographic website at simonphotography.co.uk

Some teasers here, they are all shot with natural light only!

Model: Marina


Model: Joanna

Model: Celene

and finally me visiting the Rila Monastery and decreasing their trout population (Monastery Trout is the local popular dish)


Lean Six Sigma (5)

Last day on the course. Luckily avoided the CHILLI shot the night before and people was talking about it in the room. It would be nice if I was to come back. I will miss these guys, not that I like any of them that much. It is the fact that next time when I do my green belt it will be with strangers!

Anyway, the final day was a long exercise on Value Stream mapping. I have to say it was quite straight forward. Some of my team mates took longer than I did to grasp the tool.

It was good that the week has finished early, it is also good that I am more focus and motivated.

Then I went back to the office and got some more abuse and “BACK DOWN TO ROTTEN EARTH”


Lean Six Sigma (4)

Sorry this is a late post. It is because, I broke my ASBO against and also  gate crash a under age A-level party in York.

There were a few of us, decided to go for a curry in Town. There were 5 of us, (not naming names!)

We walked about 20 minutes from our hotel to the town centre. There was genuinely a buzz. We cross the river, got some cash and found an indian resturant. The food was alright actually, I had a Lamb Taj. To be honest, I didn’t really know what I should have. I always like lamb curry so I order a Lamb Taj (whatever that was!). Anyway, it is nice to be able to go out and let our hair down so to speak.

So that is how I broke my ASBO. Now you know today is the results day for A-Levels. After our curry, we wondered into Revolution. It was full of underage teens. We were like the teacher from school, gate crashing their party. If you have been at Revolution, you will know that they famously sell favoured Vodkas. After a couple of beer, we ordered a find rounds of these favoured Vodkas. We must had 6 or more of those shots. What happen was the kid on the table next to us didn’t know we swap this full shot with a empty glass. I say kid, it is more like geeky kid. he was confused when he saw the empty shot glass. We burst out laughing. We obviously gave him back his drink but it was very funny to see his reation.

I have enjoy myself so far, although it reminded me of when I recieved my A-level results. I was waiting by a fax and didn;t celebrate in a pub/club. I was just relief that I got into UMIST.

Anyway, back to perving sorry, “looking out for the kid”! It was just worng we were there, 2 late 20s, 3 late 30s, all look far to old for the atomsphere. Anywhere the kid was all dressed up like a proper adult.

Anyway the climax of the night was the remaining 2 shots. I pick one and Scott pick another. He smell his and though it was disgusing. So I offer to swap. What I didn’t know is that I had the CHILLI one. He now had the CHILLI one and god bless I am lucky not to experience it. He has to on our journey order a burger to wash it down. God bless!

Now back to day 4, it was Lean Lean Lean. We gone through pretty much most of the Lean techniques. OEE/Effectiveness, value stream mapping, Kanbans, Kaizan, Cellular Processing, Maintenace, etc. Death by powerpoint more like. So it was good to go out for the curry!

Anyway, tomorrow we will practice all the lean tools in case studies and examples and possibly finish slightly eariler.

Now knowing both Six Sigma and Lean I can see the benefit of both but there are also conflicts of both. it will be interesting when I have to think about integrating both in IRM!

So tomorrow will probably be the last time I see some of my course-mate. It was like going back to school but I am glad I went out tonight. Now need to PACK (need to check out tomorrow morning) and SLEEP!


Lean Six Sigma (2)

2 days on, I have not yet felt the need to sleep (during the course!). This means two things.

The subject is interesting and the trainer is good!

Whether you find Lean or Six Sigma interesting, you really have to find out for yourselves. But I want to start by describing the trainer.

He is black, with a slight brommie accent. He looks young, still in his 30s I think. He is assured, never jitter. There is no um, but, a, i, x, y, and Z. So I hear you say perfect. HA HA HA….HAHAHA! Obviously not, no one is perfect. His annoying habit is his explosive laughs. I have to say, he controls the atmosphere of the room very well. It is fun. But now everyone started to recognise the time when the explosive laughter have been ignited and we actually prepared for the explosion to come. I hope you get the picture. It starts with a HA HA (intake of Breath) then louder HA HA HA HA. Not evilly but comically!

Some more serious facts about “Claudius Cole” – my trainer. He is an Engineer, with a teacher certification and is a master black belt. So that is perfect.

He TALKS as an Engineer.

TEACHES as a Teacher.

AND I get the EXPERIENCES from an expert in Lean and Six Sigma.

He also reveals today that he received his Lean training from one of the original Japanese guy from Toyota. So I am pretty much getting the knowledge as good as from the horse’s mouth.

That is a BIG PLUS!!!

It fact, it might actually be better, because Claudius’ English will be much better than that of the Japanese guy. So in term of understanding, I would find Claudius better than the Japanese guy. Definitely no complaints there, just the explosive laughs to watch out for.

Now back to today’s course, again a lot of good TOOLS. The best of all is TRIZ. I shall not explain what it is and let wiki to help me.


It is very very useful. I will write more about TRIZ in future with more visual and spreadsheet aid. (when I get it from Claudius.)

Let me tell you a bit more about the Holiday Inn at York. The food is fabulous, tastes very good. The only thing I would complaint is the LARGE portion. However, it is very good value for money, the set menu of 3 courses is £20. I have to say the quality of the food is by far the best compare to all other hotel I have stay in while working away.

So if I am around York in future for work or pleasure, this is the hotel to stay in.

Look at the deal I’ve got, B&B £62 for 3 nights and £75 for 2 nights. So on average it is £67.2 per night. If I am staying at Premier Inn, it would be £65ish anyway. So for me it is a no brainer. It will also do me no harm on my points for the Priority Club!

So I have told you something about the journey getting me to this training. I have also told you something about the course and my trainer. So tomorrow I shall talk about some of the “trainees”. This also means that I have to break my ASBO by going to the bar earlier to speak to them and dig out some interesting facts.

ps I wrote an very appreciative email to my director who has supported me in getting this training. I can’t change his mind from leaving the company. I can’t even show him the skills I have learnt from this course. All I can do is say a big big thank you. Bare in mind I don’t do this often. It is normally I help people. When people help me, I DO appreciate it. I will NEVER forget this. I do have the memory to remember and remind myself not to forget. So as long as my memory last, he will always be remembered as the one who got me on the first step. I promise that every time I do any work on Lean and Six Sigma. He will be credited!

hip hip hurray, hip hip hurray

Lean Six Sigma (1)


I am on a Lean Six Sigma – Yellow Belt training for all of this week.

It has been long and painful journey to get my company to support me in this.

It was the original intent for me to go on a Green Belt course.

Well based on cost and finding a suitable manufacturing type project, my wish was reduced to a yellow belt course.

It is called Yellow belt, but basically is half the Green belt. In fact this week I will be training with Green and Black belt people. The whole Black belt can be modulised into 4 weeks course.

Yellow is the first, Green is the first to second and half. and Black is the whole shebang.

Basically to get a Green Belt, you need to demonstrate the theory learnt in Yellow and go on to carry out a project. Obviously Black will involve another project and the role would beyond just a small project but actually leading the whole project.

In a way, I am doing the Yellow, with my aim set clearly on Green and beyond. I am buying my time to find a good project and I will definitely push for Green belt in 2009.

Well let me continue by shocking the resident of Kent!.

I sat next to a Senior Legal Advisor for Civil Advice. The council is funding his MBA and the Black belt course (£3800) god know how much the MBA is.

I did make a sneaky comment, “Kent’s council tax must be very high!”

What the hell is going on. A lawer with MBA and Black Belt Lean Six Sigma, what a Fcuking waste!

and waste of tax payer money too!

I should start looking for a job in local authority right!

Compare to the struggle I had with my aproval on a “YELLOW” belt course.

Ok it costs £950 + £500 expenses. But it is very much worth it.

Some has even questioned (behind the scenes!) about why I am in York. Well, there is no other course cheaper than this one, even including the expenses.

I know, my daily charge rate is £600 quid, meaning a maximum loss earning of fees of £3000 plus the £1500 cost so totally £4500. it sounds alot but come on please, can ANYONE see the massive potential, not for myself but for the BLOODY COMPANY!!! It all cost cost cost, no vision no imagination.

Every big chemicals, manufacturers, industrial companies are going down the route of Lean or Six Sigma. It is like SI units, if I can be this bold.

Please forget about the old British units. Lean and Six Sigma is the new one.

Let me explain in another way, if I write a report with Lean and Six Sigma language to a site that is carrying out Lean or Six Sigma. Can you see this is added-value, integrating to the way of the site.


In the current climate, if I was recruiting for my company, I would strong look at Lean and Six Sigma as a key skill set. Why would we pay more for someone with these skills that not training ourselves up. We are intelligent engineers, and should also understands that these skills are like tools. More skills/tools do actually earn more FEES!

I do feel that by the end of this week, I would have improved my ARSENAL! and will recover the cost in fees in foreseeable future. I have no doubt. Please do not judge my loyalty either. I know some people will think I am selfish and just want this for myself and I would bugger off. Hey fcuking come-on, I have work hard for this company and I will continue to do so, I have proved this to many people all the time. I don’t need to justify my loyalty further more and as such I felt totally insulted that people even questions my motive.

Invest in people and all that, I have not had a training course for two years and the company needs to develop people! We are working at the fore front and the day we stop learning is also the day we going backwards!

” You show me no respect, I shall give you no respect”. It goes both ways!

I am a bullet train and you are my obsticles. I will not stop because you think otherwise.

Enough ranting!

I will enjoy the rest of the course. I will write a post every day this week to give my thoughts.

There are about 20 people in the course, some are yellow belts, some are green belts, and some are black belts.

Please! I am in no way arrogrant but I feel I am the cleverest people in the room, if not “the” at least one of “the”.

I have to say that I am constantly thinking about my “Intelligence Resource” methodology. My common sense and IRM is raw and NATURAL. This is the first training of this type I have been on. What I have heard so far matches very much to IRM. I shall not reinvent the wheel but combine all these thinking into IRM for the invention of a super wheel!

There is something that IRM is unique. Lean looks at the speed of delivery and Six Sigma looks at the quality of the delivery. IRM looks at both and the keyword is “OPTIMISED” in speed and quality. It is similiar but very different in many ways!

At this point, IRM dictates that maxmimum sleeping time is required for information absorbing tomorrow.