Day 8 – 5/14 – Laser Focused

After a brief hiatus from site visits, we returned to our more usual routine today. Our host students at UEF had last week off following their testing, but this week many of them are back in classes, so we did not visit for a language and culture lesson. Instead, we had two site visits: one at Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), and one at II-VI Vietnam Co. Founded in 1996, VSIP offers prepared industrial land and pre-built factories to commercial clients who can rent and lease land. II-VI – my group’s assigned company for our final presentations – rents a space within the industrial park.

VSIP has multiple parks across Vietnam, and they rent out space to clients from over 30 countries. This bevy of international business has assisted in Vietnam’s global economic growth by bringing in great numbers of jobs and increasing foreign exports. These exports coming from the VSIPs total over $32B in exports for the country. The largest outside tenants of the company are Japan and Taiwan, but no one country possesses more than 16% of the available property for rent. According to our speaker, this company is a “flagship” in the Vietnam-Singapore relationship. From a marketing standpoint, new businesses are attracted to the parks directly through seminars presented in other countries. At the end of our presentation, we got to see a huge 3D map of the industrial park which featured exquisite detail and really put the size of the park into perspective.

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Between site visits, we stopped at the local mall for udon. My beef udon essentially tasted like our pho did on the first day. We spent the majority of the next hour perusing the mall for souvenirs and clothing without much luck.

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Once we wrapped up at the mall, we returned to II-VI for what ended up being our longest site visit of the trip by far. II-VI is a complex, multi-faceted technology company who engineers key parts for numerous machines, vehicles, and electronics. For example, II-VI is the leading suppliers of CO2 lasers in the world, and they make various other laser-related products in addition to thermoelectric pieces. Some of II-VI’s major challenges include preventing threats of low-end market strike products and determining how to adapt to new technology. This threat of competitors lowering costs by finding cheaper labor prompted II-VI to move many of their high-volume-low-cost product operations to Vietnam. According to our lesson today, the largest driving factor behind II-VI’s operating decisions is cost, and this is reflected in their global labor diversification. One difficulty with cost-minimization however, is the extensive training that employees must be put through to understand factory processes. Ultimately, employees can take six months to be brought up to speed.

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Today, we got to walk on the actual factory floor and see the processes for ourselves. Although I must admit a majority of the engineering terminology went over my head, I was amazed by the insanely intricate processes I saw. Every employee was working with the tiniest, most precise objects and tools, and everything was exact down to the millimeter. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the factory floor for the sake of privacy, but the trip really impressed me as a whole, and I felt like I learned more than I did on any of our other site visits. I feel ready to give a well-executed presentation on II-VI.

In the evening, we traveled to the Bitexco Financial Tower downtown to observe the city from their Skydeck on the 49th floor. From the ground, the tower resembled the Avengers headquarters tower in the Marvel movies. The view was absolutely spectacular. Our last stop of the day consisted of “beef steak sandwiches.” This was our first experimentation with street food, and the meal cost under three dollars. Honestly, it was one of the better meals of the trip and it featured traditional Vietnamese flavors. Tomorrow, we will make our second attempt at visiting VinaCapital, and this will mark our final major site visit of the trip.

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