Today was a very important day for me and my Faurecia group, and a very long day for everyone else. We started off the day with a much needed late start, with a bus ride to Baindlkirch for a Weißwurst and pretzel breakfast.
The sausages came in a hot plate of water, and it proved more difficult than I expected to separate the sausages from each other. Dr. Feick told us not to eat the skin of the Weißwurst, so I proceeded to use my knife like a scalpel and cut a line down the middle, peeling away the sausage skin with my hands. This is apparently frowned upon in Bavarian culture, as you’re supposed to do it with a knife and a fork, but it was much easier to just peel away with my hands.
The sausages tasted much better than how they looked! I ate a hearty breakfast of three sausages and two pretzels, each which could be dipped in a delicious mustard-esque paste.
We then walked to the bus to return to the hotel and get dressed for Faurecia, but not before a quick photoshoot by the rapeseed field. Vipin got a few candid shots of me by the field, but nothing was too good because I have no idea how to pose in a field.
Our Faurecia tour commenced with a lot of waiting. Faurecia was more protective about their information than any company we’ve visited, as they made us sign an NDA when we first got to Germany. This protectiveness is because the Faurecia location we visited develops prototypes which haven’t yet been produced at a full scale.
We once again put on some clown shoe steel toes, as well as a lab coat and safety glasses. I was impressed with how much Faurecia emphasized their safety, as they claimed not to have had a factory accident in over 3 years.
The first presenter, a gentleman who worked at the plant we were visiting, gave us a layout of the plant, and also described the various job sections that went into prototype production. We also got a brief plant tour, where we saw the prototypes for various engines, exhaust pipes, and mufflers. It was a little difficult to pay attention in the plant tour with so much hot PPE equipment.
We also got to understand a lot about how the plant runs and gets its materials, such as how a purchasing team determines which supplier to buy from, and a quality team negotiates with the supplier or talks to the buyers, should they be dissatisfied. As for the plant’s supply chain, the plant worker explained that a customer gets in touch with the CBV, who asks Faurecia for a specific prototype, and Faurecia then works with the customer to get them their ideal prototype.
The next presenter explained the career opportunities with Faurecia, and how students could work abroad at Faurecia after college. I like that the smaller companies we’ve visited have mostly all provided us with ways to follow up and potentially work for them in the future. It adds a more personal aspect to our company visits.
The next presenters gave us a better idea of Faurecia on a global scale, and Faurecia’s semi-merger with HELLA, a company that produces headlights. Faurecia has since become Forvia with this merger, but they haven’t officially changed their name, as they are not a fully united company with HELLA, and they may never be, as both companies produce vastly different products.
After a lunch break, a friendly gentlemen in a blue shirt gave us a brief overview of how Faurecia operates globally. He was probably the most helpful of any presenter today in answering questions that my group and I needed for our business report. He first explained that Faurecia works a lot on seat heating systems, and that about 29% of the companies’ employees work on car seats in some way. He also told us about company Faurecia recently bought named Clarion, who has engineers working on innovating car cockpits.
I was able to talk to the blue-shirted presenter later on in the day, and I found it interesting that Faurecia’s supply chain was more impacted globally by the semiconductor crisis than Covid-19, as 25-30 million cars couldn’t be produced by major car companies, and thus the demand for Faurecia’s seats, heating systems and other interior car systems became far less.
After that presentation, a Turkish presenter started his presentation on Hydrogen fuel cell storage, but he noticed we were all getting sleepy and let us take a quick break. I looked behind me and saw many of my fellow plus 3’ers slumped in their chairs, and I realized that Faurecia wasn’t nearly as interesting for anyone that didn’t have to report on the company. Although I was required to give my full attention to Faurecia, it was probably the least interesting of the companies we’ve visited thus far.
Although it wasn’t especially helpful to my group, the next presentation was easily the most interesting of the day. The Turkish presenter explained that Faurecia wants to be the “apple of hydrogen containers.” The presenter explained the need to consider the materials of the hydrogen storage, he showed us a few diagrams of the expected storage container design, and he explained that Faurecia hoped to develop a smart container which could alert drivers of an issue. The hydrogen containers start production in May of next year, and from what I understood this hydrogen would be used to generate power as an emerging fuel source.
All the Faurecia presentations today gave us such a wide range of information to use in our presentation, from the general overview of the company and the products they produce to the potential future innovations. We ended our company visit with a zoom call with an American Faurecia employee, and we were given a fun quiz on the information we learned to end the day.
After leaving Faurecia, we waited for the bus for about 20 minutes longer than I expected. I decided to fill that time by pumping my arm and getting passing trucks to honk for us. Within minutes, we had a line of guys, and for a while we got trucks to honk with about 80% efficiency.
For our individual dinner that night, I went with a few of the Plus 3 guys and Korbinian’s assistant Maxi to “Wirthaus unter dem Bogen,” a restaurant recommended by Maxi where I ordered a spectacular German BBQ burger. The burger was actually cooked, and easily the best meal I’ve had yet. I may have been too excited by the burger, as before we even ordered our food I had a sudden nosebleed. I also spent 8 euros on two glasses of water!
Today was yet another exhausting but fulfilling day. My group and I got a surplus of information to go off of for our presentation next Wednesday, and we’ll have to decide what we want to focus on. I’m relieved to be done with my company visit, and glad it went so well! Bis Morgen!