Day Drei: The Third Day

Tuesday, May 9th was the date of our first company visit. After a short breakfast at the B&B, we took the tram to Faurecia, a French company that produces car interiors (especially seating) and exhaust systems. The Augsburg facility we visited specifically focused on exhaust systems.

After receiving the protective eyewear, shoe covers, and lab coats necessary for the factory tour, we were presented to on the business and engineering aspects of the company. While the engineering information was completely over my head (a trend throughout the trip), I was incredibly intrigued by Faurecia’s business operations. Some insights that struck me regarded the bidding process for exhaust contracts, specifically that the design winner only produces half of their own system, and any failure in design meant an immediate drop or loss of profit for the manufacturer. The exhaust market seemed cutthroat and wildly prohibitive to new entrants.

That being said, a tour of the facility quickly demonstrated why Faurecia held a distinct advantage in their market. Their tests seemed rigorous and extensive and their grounds were spotless. While the tests seemed important, we learned that they are actually seeing a disturbing decrease in interest from car producers, as the engines required are incredibly expensive. Their sound tests, often conducted in audio dampening rooms, also helped explain why some cars sound so much cooler than others, and super cars sound so super.

After the Faurecia tour, we had some free time for lunch in Augsburg. I ordered a burger and cappuccino from Henry’s Cafe in the town square, and was shocked when the burger compared favorably to some of the best I’ve had in the US.

Once our free time was up, we met at St. Jakob’s church for a tour of some of the famous churches in Augsburg, led by a local minister. Our tour guide explained some of the historical significance of each incredible church, gave us historical insight on the connection between Martin Luther and the city, and told us about some of the festivities planned for the 500th anniversary of his 95 Theses. She concluded her tour with a discussion on religion and politics in America, led by a local religious studies professor.

After this somewhat awkward talk, our program concluded for the day. For dinner, I had a turkey and spätzle dish from a local Bavarian restaurant.

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