Today was just as full as yesterday. We began by visiting a carbon fiber company, SGL. They make material for the frames of some BMW vehicles as well as carbon fiber baseball bats, and all kinds of products for companies. Bikes, molds, you name it. Their technical presentation was a bit long and highly technical and perhaps a tad dry but I still found it interesting. The more business-related presentation was excellent. The company almost went under recently due to the financial crisis in 2008 and the presenter gave us a detailed depiction of how the company survived and is still battling to get back to where it was. They had to cut back quite a bit and prioritize their more profitable sectors of the company.
The rest of the day was spent in Munich, one of the biggest cities in Germany. We toured BMW world and saw thousands of their vehicles, old and new, both cars and bikes. They are currently investing heavily in automated driving and more electric vehicles. The place was massive and ended with a spiraling walkway taking us into the future of BMW vehicles. In the interim between BMW world and the production facility tour, we sat around, exhausted. Then we ventured over to the 1972 Olympic stadium in Munich, famous for the Munich Massacre where athletes were taken hostage and killed nearby. It is also famous for David Wottle, an American runner who was in last place during the first 600m of the 800m race and won first place. The stadium is a sprawling web of metal beams and glass ceiling. Now the place is a park full of wanderers enjoying the beautiful weather. The intimate experience with history I experienced here was unforgettable.
After a comprehensive experience of the company’s products, we got a more intimate look into the inner workings of the company via a tour of the production facility. We saw a car go from pure and raw material to a nearly completed product. They had machines to press the material, thousands of arms to weld parts together, an engine assembly, interior workshops, and very few workers. Almost all of the work was automated. It was interesting to see just how much work that entirely was done by hand can now be done almost entirely by computers and machines. Technology has allowed for us to do so many new things by removing the need for repetitive labor. Unfortunately, to have the wonderful experience in the factory required us to be on our feet for even longer, all in business casual. I made the rookie mistake of wearing new dress shoes and we ended up walking many miles. My feet were killing me! The tour concluded and we were almost asleep by that point. Jetlag was killer, so I crashed hard, but the day was one to remember. I am thankful that I will see things that I would never get to see otherwise. If I ever had come to Germany on my own, I doubt I would have made the trek to the factory, but now I don’t think I could ever forget it.