Two for One: VSIP & II-VI

Day 8: 5.13.19

The first site visit of the day was VSIP (Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park), a company that started as an initiative between the Vietnamese and Singaporean governments, who strives to provide a place where people can live, learn, work, and play. While this has been and continues to be a successful venture, there are pros and cons. The convenience of working close to home is hard to beat, especially with commutes being one the biggest wasters of time and human productivity. I also believe having everything you need in such a close radius can offer peace of mind and a greater sense of community as you spend more time seeing and getting to know everyone else that lives and works in the same area. However, I’ve experienced a similar set up growing up living on military bases, where I also went to school, had jobs, and played, and I learned that if you aren’t careful, you end up living in a bubble. The craziest part was that I knew people who rarely left base, so I can imagine that there are similar people living in industrial parks. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I know it’s not for everyone.

A diorama of VSIP, showcasing residential and commercial areas as well as factories.

The second site vist of the day was II-VI Vietnam Co. Ltd., which is my group’s assigned company. The location here manufactures thermal electric coolers, photoptic lenses, and composite materials. II-VI Vietnam is a branch of II-VI that is headquarted in Pennsylvania, so one of the biggest questions I had going into this visit was how a company goes from PA to Vietnam, because that’s not a fun trip, I would know we just did it. I learned from the presentation that better tax incentives and lower labor costs were the driving factors. I suppose that at the end of day, it really is all about the money. As far as challenges that come with manufacturing in a country like Vietnam, II-VI faced the issue of a relatively uneducated workforce (compared to the U.S.). Their solution was to individualize, meaning that instead of each employee bringing a variety of skills to the table, they are trained for one specific task. The training can last anywhere from two weeks to two years, depending on whether it’s learning how to operate a machine or how to catch defects under a microscope. This is more efficient because there’s less risk of decreased productivity if one employee has to leave because it’s like temporarily losing a single piece of a puzzle rather than unearthing a plant with entangled roots that ends up disrupting the plants around it.

A II-VI employee using tweezers to handle one of the delicately tiny parts.

P.S. Last night’s dinner is officially my favorite of all the Vietnamese cuisine I’ve tried!

Bahn khot: mini rice/noodle pancakes with shrimp

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