Guten Morgen! Our last early morning and company visit and I think we were all a little glad because the long days and jet lag were starting to take a toll on us. Today we visited GROB Werke, another automobile manufacturing company. GROB’s headquarters were huge, they had so many buildings and plants, and all at this one office. When we walked inside the main building, it was super spacious and clean and slick, something I didn’t see an incredible amount of during the previous company visits. Our lovely tour guide first directed us to a conference room where he introduced us to the company and told us a little bit about the history of leadership in GROB. I personally wondered why it was called GROB and if it stood for something, but he clarified that the last name of the founder was GROB. He also clarified that it’s a huge family business, and they like to keep the leadership of GROB in the hands of the men with the last name GROB in the company. After a brief introduction, we shifted to the factory tour. We went in and out of a number of different plants that produced different products. One specific fact that I found intriguing was the fact that GROB’s machines are actually manufacturing the parts to produce its other new machines. This is a concept I didn’t really see at any of the other companies, at least not as prevalent as it was at GROB. It was also kind of cool to be in the same plants that are constructing parts and machines are the major automobile companies like Tesla and BMW.
After going through a number of plants and speaking with some of the workers inside the plants, we headed to lunch. While on the way, our tour guide told us a bit about the benefits for employees, including health care and free lunch, both on campus. It further emphasized that they care about their employees. At the canteen, I think we were all glad to get a break from all the sandwiches that we had in the days prior. We then returned to the conference room where we learned about some more technology GROB was innovating. A few important things that set GROB apart for me were their no firing policy and employee retention. Essentially, our guide told us that they don’t fire any of the employees. Even during the pandemic, they kept on all of their workers. They even gave an employee a second chance after he proved to not be dedicated to his work. It was a very interesting policy, and definitely something uncommon. Additionally, he mentioned the number of employees that they have had for numerous decades. He said people really enjoy working there, a lot of people start with an internship or at a lower position when they are younger and feel no need to leave the company. It seems these two factors have contributed to why employees are satisfied with the company. Lastly, one thing that stood out from the other companies was the incredibly fast customer service. The machines are able to recognize themselves if something is wrong and then alert GROB. They then will have someone at that specific plant in 24 hours, no matter the time of day or country. Talk about a happy customer.
After the tours and talks, we headed back to the university for two more talks. First, we had a representative from VDE that talked about the future of the automobile industry in Germany. They conducted a survey with a number of educated individuals and asked them what they think about the future of cars and carbon neutrality. It seems like Germany is ahead when it comes to eliminating fossil fuels.
And to conclude the day of many talks, we heard from a former employee at BMW. It was particularly interesting to hear his opinion about the future of autonomous driving at BMW since he is no longer with the company. It was nice to hear an outsider’s perspective compared to what the current employees of BMW tell you. He went through a 5 stage model of different levels of autonomous driving in the future. Currently, the farthest level that any company has got to is level 2, even though Tesla evaluates itself at level 3, he does not agree with this statement. Another interesting conservation that came up during the talk was about ethics when it comes to autonomous driving. The main question was should the car look to protect the driver first or the people outside of the car. The discussion continued for a while but ultimately we all agree that there is no right answer, it is simply too difficult of a topic to decide on as many factors need to be taken into account.
After the BMW talk, we headed back to the hotel to rest, after 5 company visits in 4 days. I’m excited about tomorrow in Munich, not only because I get to sleep in a bit but because I also love shopping. Catch up tomorrow!
A very tired Sydney