H&K was our company visit for the day, and it certainly gave Kuka a run for its money. It is a company that produces a few products for BMW. They are one of BMW’s many suppliers giving them less than a 1% market share. They use injection-molding to make their products, a method that is now being phased out by 3D printing. They are currently making no attempt to invest in 3D printing and it is the estimation of everyone who went on the tour that they may go under soon…. But as said before… not everyone can be BMW. The presenters had to work extra hard because the man showing us around didn’t speak any English so he had a translator help out. It was cool to see their one robot arm putting clips on a housing, but other than that the tour was a tad uneventful. There was a room full of elderly women they employ just so that they have a job, which seems kind, but then we heard that the product is unprofitable and as soon as the women quit the product will cease to be produced. In a sense, that is showing corporate responsibility for workers, but it seems like an unwise decision to me, an outsider. They seem to be doing ok currently but have a cloudy forecast in my opinion. We enjoyed talking about the company after for sure.
After the tour, we got to meet up with our German group to put the presentation together. We ran through it once as well and realized we have some timing issues. We have only one more day to get it all together, so we need to make sure we get that down. Otherwise, the content is quite excellent. I am very impressed with the German students who are working with their second language and still manage to produce content at least as good as ours. We are getting along very well with them. We are almost done with all the work needed for the actual class aside from these blogs!
After we wrapped up our work for the day, we went out to an interesting Chinese restaurant. It looked like it wasn’t quite up to code and the man running it didn’t speak any English. We had to gesture to order! The food was solid and very cheap and we got ice cream after to top it off. The ice cream here is just so good. You can’t beat 1 euro for a scoop. It was Jeremy’s birthday, so we went bowling, which was fun. A good end to an interesting day. If not for the strength of friendship at this point in the trip, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. But it was!