We got to “sleep in” today, meaning I didn’t have to be up until 7:30. Woo hoo! I did have to do some work before we got on the bus but for the most part it was a relaxing morning.
Our first tour today was Volvo Trucks (not to be confused with Volvo Cars). Consider that all my other preconceptions about how these plants would be set up have been grossly inaccurate I had no clue what to expect. Suprisingly, this plant was set up how I had thought the Saab plant would be set up. Holy Moly was this an assembly line in peak lean fashion! The trucks were put on dolly’s that moved at a 7-minute’s snail’s pace past assembly line workers (or robots) who assembled 60 Volvo Trucks a day. Everything was timed appropriately, just-in-time was down to a two-hour window, workers were cross-trained, and inventory was brought when they needed it exactly when they needed it. I was impressed! And to top it off, our guide Jenny was a total delight! After Maria from Stora Enso she may be my new favorite guide!
Fun fact: Volvo makes their trucks with the flat front unlike those in the U.S. because of the different regulations regarding length of trucks – in the U.S. the cab doesn’t count but in many other countries it does. Hence, Volvo (and others) have shrunk down the cabs to make them as small as possible to squeak in under length regulations.
To make even more of a positive impression on me, Volvo has a tradition at the plant of flying flags out front of whatever country visitors that day are from. Today there was the Stars and Stripes flying along with Sweden and Japan!
After this was a quick trip to the Volvo Museum. I admit: I was underwhelmed. I’m still not quite feeling 100% (a mixture of eating foods with onions in them because it’s just too hard to find meals without that over here and either lack of sleep or something weird is interfering with my thyroid meds) so that may have been part of it but I have to say that for me, this was one thing I could have skipped. Cars are fun to look at for about 5 minutes and then I’m done.
From here we were off for a tour of Volvo Cars. After coming from Volvo Trucks, I was imagining a similar process. Wow was I mistaken! Yes, they had a similar assembly line process but this one was much more chaotic and less one smooth assembly. This was set up more in cells at the very beginning and didn’t become the smooth process until the very end. However, we got to wear these awesome safety goggles so there is yet another picture of me wearing safety gear, even though we weren’t supposed to take any pics. Oops!
Fun fact: Volvo’s plant doesn’t make just one type of vehicle at this plant – they could have as many going through as there are models. It seemed quite chaotic but they made it work.
On the way back to the hotel I finally stopped and got some Swedish Strawberries. I was listening to a travel blog about Sweden before I came and one of the things that it mentioned was how amazing the strawberries where. I am not sure that they were amazing but it was nice to have some fresh fruit after all the carbs I’ve been eating!
We got back to the hotel and a bunch of us got changed to go take a Padden Boat. This was essentially a guided tour of the Gothenburg canal. I did great during the canal part but when we got the harbor I was definitely second guessing myself. Me + small boat bobbing in water does not equal a good time. Luckily I got back on land before I go too sick.
After this a bunch of us walked to the Haga area and then up to Skansen Kronen or the Crown Redoubt, a 17th century fortification. The climb was hard but the view was amazing!
After another good dinner at the hotel it was off to the room for me to blog, work a little on my paper, pack, and try to get an early night. We leave Sweden for good tomorrow and enter the final days of this trip – Hello Denmark!!