Wednesday, May 10th was the date of our second site visit. After another short breakfast at the B&B, we boarded a bus bound for Denklingen, home of my presentation team’s company: Hirschvogel Automotive Group. Hirschvogel is primarily a forging and machining company, responsible for many of the small parts within automobiles.
Once at Hirschvogel, we had another presentation on the business and engineering sides of the company. Of note, we learned that Hirschvogel is a Mittelstand (family-owned and medium sized) company that invests much of its profits back into its business. To deal with the loss of its cash cows in a world filled with electric cars, Hirschvogel is currently investing in new and expensive additive manufacturing technology and banking on a potential service branch to sell its expertise and competencies to other manufacturers.
The actual Hirschvogel factory was both exactly what I expected and a complete surprise. The factory was by far the most “industrial” we visited, complete with all the soot, grease, clanging, banging, chemical smells, and heat one could imagine. This was to be expected, as Hirschvogel is a forging company. A complete surprise was the lack of workers within the plant. Each machine (massive behemoths of technology) had perhaps one worker operating it at a time. Frequently, this worker was completely hands off, a technician just making sure everything was fully operational. The factory therefore seemed incredibly industrial, while at the same time incredibly modern.
After the Hirschvogel tour, we were given a lunchbox for the road and our bus headed further south to Oberammergau. Once there, we had time to explore the tourist town and shop for some souvenirs. Then, we took a cramped lift up into the mountains, and witnessed the Alps that sit on the southern border between Germany and Austria. The view was breathtaking and worth the trip by itself.
After taking all the pictures that we could, we rode the bus back to our hotel and the program concluded for the day. I ate dinner in the town square and then got gelato with some other students.