I’m really impressed with EAL and SDU , these days, as they’re organizing all kind of interesting events. One of them was the “company crawl” in Svendborg, a small town 30 km distance from Odense. The plan was to visit 3 companies, have a presentation from them about the way they are doing product development, take company tours, get some advice on how to structure our CV and the way we approach a company (job/internship posibilities) and last but not least, a town visit.
This is the first company on the list was also the most interesting. SBS’ motto is “the power to stop you” – pretty descriptive and catchy for a 450 employee company that produces brake, especially for motorcycles, cars and also for special appliances like wind turbines.
The presentation was pretty complete, covering the company missions and objectives over to the production strategy and supply chain. It is the first place where I’ve heard of LEAN, as a production “method”, whereas in the product development education we are used to terms like the KUBUS model, Red and Blue ocean strategies. Apart from all the fancy corporate buzzwords that you would expect to hear in such a presentation, it was actually understandable and the graphs helped a lot.
Notable ideas that i learned from them is the stability of the spare parts market in such an industry and the leading car markets in the world (Germany holding the top, followed by France and a Eastern Europe somewhere in the 5-6th positions with an increase from the last years).
Another interesting about the company is the way they do their management of daily activities. Every morning the assigned manager manually updates several whiteboards in the company during an one hour meeting. Of course they are also using computerized data handling, but by manually checking and updating whiteboards like above, you are more focused on the activities and people get a more clear idea on what they have to do. Didn’t manage to take more pictures in the factory, just on some of the robots.
Lastly, at our departure we are invited to take some free stuff from the company (what better way to market yourself than by giving away caps with your logo?). This is a shot with us from the Product Development education (too few, i know).
The second company is more of a local one, providing electrical infrastructure and fiber optics to the southern part of Fyn. Although this was an event involving international students, they refused to hold the presentation in english. Apart from the first presentation (descriptive, more pictures, less text) this was exactly opposite – too much text, no pictures and very boring.
Another brake manufacturer, but this time with a different target market. They mainly produce high-end industrial-type brakes, for mining facilities, oil and gas industry, wind turbines and others. Their presentation was very confident and active, i liked that. They really looked like they know what they are doing and they were confident on their position among competitors. One of the statements that induced this more was the fact that they were bought by Altra (leading producer in mechanical power transmission products), because they are world leaders in their segment.
The tour was a bit longer here, as Svendborg Brakes did have a bit more facilities than the other 2 companies. Below you can see a picture of the cooling room, where brakes are being tested at low temperatures to see how the materials react.
It’s really nice to see that what you’re learning in courses is actually applied in real life. As we can see from the next picture, their development procedure is very similar to the Stage Gate model that we have been using.
And a very interesting thing is that they have an in-house employee training facility.
It’s basically a big room with example products along with user manual and installation instructions.
Company visits like this are very welcomed and beneficial to both companies and students. As a student you have the advantages of:
- getting new contacts (networking),
- see how theory is applied in real world and
- have the small chance of an internship/job oportunity, especially if you can identify something that can improve the company in some way.
- get your project/product/service used by a company that might be interested in investing
As a company you have the advantage of getting yourself known to relevant people (a group of people that will most likely end up as your competitor, working for your competitors or for your own facilities) and have the small chance of getting a quality employee or intern that can add value to any of your areas.