Today was the earliest departure time yet – we left at 7:15am. Everyone was exhausted but also very excited about today’s company visit: Audi. We all slept on the bus ride and woke up in Ingolstadt. I did not really know what to expect from the visit, but I knew that it would be like nothing I had ever seen before. Before we even arrived at the Audi headquarters, there were many signs for the site, and most of the cars on the road were Audis. It was easy to tell that we were close to arriving. The site itself looked extremely modern, with glass buildings and brick pavements. Almost all the cars parked outside the Audi museum were Audis, but I did spot a BMW and a Porsche in the midst. Also, the Ingolstadt site is so massive that there is a shuttle system to transport people between the different buildings.
We had the factory tour first, and I was amazed by every step of the car production process. First, we went to the body shop, where the body or frame of the car is made with steel and aluminum. In the body shop, 90% of the work is done by robots, which is difficult for me to wrap my mind around. The robots work together in an insanely efficient assembly line style, each specializing in one specific area. The robots were massive and cost millions of euros each. I cannot imagine coding a machine that is so precise and specialized.
After the body shop, we did not have enough time to go to all the buildings, so we skipped the paint shop and ended at the final assembly building. Here, we got to watch the interior of the cars get assembled, such as the cable tree, dashboard, and windows. There are hardly any robots in this last step of the process, as 80% of the labor in the final assembly building is manual. The first step that the cars go through is door removal to make the interior of the car more accessible to the workers. The doors then go on a conveyer belt until they are ready to be put back onto the car. For quality control, workers can press a button if something needs to be checked. It was truly captivating to watch workers move so quickly in an assembly line when assembling each car. Efficiency is crucial when 2,400 cars are produced each day at the Ingolstadt site alone!
After the tour, we had some free time to explore the museum and eat lunch. The cafeteria was very nice, and I decided to try Schnitzel for the first time. I loved it, and I will definitely be ordering it again!
The museum was interesting because it was organized to show the evolution of Audi since the 1980s. I do not have much knowledge of automobiles, but many of the boys seemed like they were in heaven surrounded by all the Audi cars. I especially enjoyed seeing the old-fashioned cars because they look just like cars that people drove back in the day, and I did not know Audi was producing cars back then.
The last part of the Audi visit was a presentation. I found the presentation extremely interesting because it was mainly about future prospects for Audi, including fully electric cars, Audi On Demand (a car rental system), and cooperation with Airbus & Italdesign. I thought that the presenter was very honest about Audi’s goals and mission, which was a nice change from usual companies. He focused on the e-tron a lot, which is Audi’s first fully electric car that was recently released in the European market. I got to sit in an e-tron, which was definitely the highlight of the visit. There are no side mirrors on the car; there are cameras in its place to reduce air resistance and to add kilometers per charge. As an engineer, I appreciated hearing about optimizing the car design, especially in newer innovations such as electric cars because they are very different from our current cars.
On the bus ride home, it was raining a bit, but once we got closer to our hotel, the rain got heavier. As we pulled up to the hotel, it was a heavy downpour. I had just woken up five minutes before we arrived, so I was still not fully awake yet. Everyone rushed off the bus with their rain gear, but the rain was being blown sideways, and everyone was soaked by the time we crossed the street and got into the hotel. That was definitely not the highlight of the day!
For dinner, a group of us decided to go to Döner with Justin, as per his recommendation. I did not realize that Döners are very similar to gyros. We all got the Döner sandwich with cheese, and it was delicious! I would say that it is one of my favorite foods that I have eaten here. I will definitely be back soon for round two.
This company visit is going to be very tough to beat, but I am ready to finally get to see my company, Faurecia, tomorrow!