Bosch, Auto Production, and an evening with Wolfgang

We arrived safely in Stuttgart and made our way to the headquarters of multinational engineering giant and the world’s largest auto supplier – Bosch.  We learned more about Bosch’s global footprint, how they encourage innovation internally (seeding and allowing employees to pursue startup projects), and how they invest as venture capitalists.  Bosch stood out from many corporate VCs as they are a total separate entity from the company and actually measure their performance against other VC firms not just their own operations.  We also learned that Bosch is owned 92% by Robert Bosch’s own charitable foundation and the company remains private to this day.

Following lunch we headed over to a Mercedes Benz’s car plant in nearby Sindelfingen where they produce models such as the S-Class and E-Class cars.  While we were not allowed to take videos or photos of the assembly process or final finishing we were able to snag a few photos of the customer center and witness some G-Class testing

Once the plant tour began we saw the large scale automation taking place in the plant. Over 90% of the process is automated mostly from robots purchased from another German Technology Leader- Kuka Robotics.   Cars are taken from building via covered bridge and conveyer belt from the automated assembly stage to the more manual finishing stages (which include badge installation, custom interiors etc).  Even at the manual finishing stage, many of the processes were automated or ordered using systems and analysis many of us found familiar from operations management and our study of the Toyota Production System.   It was an eye opening experience to those of us who had never been to a factory floor let alone a world class automotive operation like this one.

After a quick rest stop at the hotel we then suited up and headed for the highlight of the day- an evening with Daimler Truck CEO- Wolfgang Bernhard at the executive dining facility of Mercedes Benz Headquarters.  After a short introduction to the company, a review of his current priorities, and the CBS experience – he quickly launched into open Q&A with the group.  We then sat down for dinner and the gracious CEO sat down with each individual small group table to address any questions we had.   We covered topics such as what to do post-MBA to what is the future of autonomous driving.   Truly an unforgettable experience.

With a full belly and fond memories of Stuttgart we began the process of preparing for our final stop… Berlin!

Diego Cuenca ’16

Chazen Germany 2016

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