Thursday, May 11th was our third company visit. We met in the hotel lobby and traveled by bus to Baindlkirch for breakfast. There, we had the opportunity to try a traditional Bavarian breakfast: weisswurst (veal sausage) and pretzels. The German students helped teach us how to separate the white sausages and then eat them, as they are served all together in a big bucket and the skin must be removed. Honestly, I did not expect to like the breakfast but it was delicious, and the mustard served with the meal might be the best I’ve ever had. After eating we had the opportunity to see how the sausage was put in its casing, a sort of “How It’s Made” of heartburn.
After some free time following breakfast, we boarded a tram bound for KUKA: the biggest company you’ve never heard of. Following a “brand experience” that included a synchronized robot dance and light show, we had the opportunity to learn about the leading robots manufacturer. Despite its relatively low profile, we learned that KUKA produces most of the robots used in the automobile industry and has 2(!) years of back orders for its expensive technology.
We were led on a tour of their newly built manufacturing center, where robots were actually building other robots. True to the trend, human workers were few and far between. And again, the facility was spotless. At a Q and A session with an engineer, we learned that KUKA is focusing on developing AI and big data, and is innovating with smaller robots for fields like medicine and technology (i.e. smartphone) production. Due in part to their robot’s long life expectancy, they are facing oversaturation in some of their markets and are looking to expand their product line over the long term.
We returned to Koenigsplatz to end the program for the day, and I went with a group of students and Brad Miner to get doner at a local shop for dinner.