Monday, July 13, 2009

Touring the Audi Plant

On Monday, we had our usual marketing class. Everyone was so tired from traveling all weekend. Some of the girls who went to London didn’t get back until almost 5 a.m. on Monday morning because of flight and bus delays! After we got out of marketing class, many of us took a quick nap before heading to lunch and our German class. After German class, some of us decided to go walk around the city. We ended up getting some ice cream from an amazing little ice cream shop in the shopping square. The ice cream here in Germany is way better than any ice cream I’ve ever had back in the states. It’s so much creamier here! After that, I spent most of my afternoon at the train station. I am absolutely scared of flying. After last weekend’s flight from London and back, I refuse to get on another plane, unless it's heading back to the states! So, I basically had to figure how to get to Rome and back this upcoming weekend at the train station. I’m going to have to take a 12-hour train ride to Rome, but it’s worth it to me to not have to take a plane!

On Tuesday, we had classes and lunch at the hostel. After class, I went to the computer lab to catch up on some schoolwork for about three hours or so. That evening, some of us girls decided to straighten Dr. Droms hair for the night. It was quite an event! It looked so good! All of us girls had fun getting ready for our night out together. Our entire group was invited by Dr. Lembach, the Director of International Programs at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (our host for the trip), to a biergarten party at a local biergarten. We all got dressed up, and we were looking good for the event! Some German students also came to join us for dinner and drinks. They will be coming to VSU next semester to take class and study abroad at our campus. It was really nice to be able to meet some of these students and tell them all about our city and our campus. They seem really excited about coming over to America. We all exchanged names and numbers, so when they do make it over to the states, we can meet up and show them around.

On Wednesday, we had our second weekly field trip for the international marketing and management classes! We were invited once again by Senator Aurenz, who is on the board of directors for Audi, to tour the Audi plant in Neckarsulm. It was about a 1.5 hour train ride from Karlsruhe, but was definitely worth the trip. We arrived at the plant around 10 a.m. Senator and Mrs. Aurenz greeted us and advised us to study hard, get a good job, make a lot of money, and then buy an Audi! We toured the production facilities that make the Audi R8s and it was amazing. Did you know that 80 percent of the R8s are made by hand? Only about 20 percent of the production process of an R8 is by robots. This means that each and every R8 is truly unique. You can have anything you want put into these cars. They will specialize the car to fit the consumer’s needs. Of course, the price tag increases with each specialization request.

It was so cool to see how the assembly line works in a car production company. For the Audi R8s, each station has exactly 29 minutes before the car parts move on to the next station. We also learned that each and every Audi car is sold before it is ever made. This makes it so the company does not spend a lot of money in storing product that hasn’t been sold. We later moved on to see how the Audi A6s are made, which is a much different process. A robot is responsible for about 80 percent of the A6 production. During the tour, we basically just watched a robot twist its little steel hands and rotate in all different kinds of ways to put the car together. These cars can also be specialized according to the consumer’s preferences.

After touring the plant, we were treated to lunch in the Audi Staff Restaurant. After lunch, we took a bus to a local wine vineyard for a wine tasting and buffet. We were given a quick tour of the wine cellar, and treated to a wine tasting of some of the different wines produced in the cellar. We tried five different wines, ranging from white wines, to blush wines, to red wines. We were also served dinner at the wine tasting. After we had our bellies full, we went to catch the train back to Karlsruhe.

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

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