Fri Jul 3: Maersk and Carlsberg Visit

We arrived in the hotel previous night; we all met in the hotel lobby for Dinner. After dinner a small group left to walk around in the city. After going around for a while we ended up in a small English pub. This little place had a bit of the English pub charm however it was very quiet and the small. We decided to find a better place and started walking few blocks. We met the other group in the new bar. We all tasted couple of beers and spent the evening in that bar. It was one of the very good evenings with our student group.

Most of us were very happy that it was a late start in the morning to Maersk. Maersk was few minutes drive from our hotel. The HR person from Maersk headed the meeting. She had invited two representatives from Maersk’s internal consulting group and one representative from sales group. Internal consulting group concept was a new concept. Representatives their internal consulting group explained how their group functions. I personally felt that the internal consulting group concept might not be very effective. After the internal consulting group presentation, the sales team representative explained the business from sales perspective.

After Maersk we visited Carlsberg Beer Company. One of the tour guides took us for a facility/the area tour. After the tour they gave each of us coupons for 2 beers each. All of us tasted their beers and spent some time in their museum.

I had already starting to miss everyone because it was the last day. I was leaving to Belgium to meet my family that evening. I missed the last day dinner in Copenhagen. Overall the study abroad program was very good. We visited 13 companies, learnt about their supply chain, production processes and their business in general. We also got an opportunity to meet and know everyone in the group better.

July 02 2015: Lego and Lego Land Visit

July 1 2015 was a travel day. We had a bus breakdown and we ended up spending 3-4 hours in a parking lot 1.5 hours from Kolding, Denmark. Luckily it was just after our lunch. We all played card games. Someone in the group had a tennis ball, we found a small branch and we played “Baseball”. The temperature in the region was just perfect. We reached our hotel in Kolding @~7:50PM. Kolding is a very small town; we had dinner in the hotel and went to bed very early.

LEGO is an interesting company, LEGO is one of my favorite companies and I wanted to understand more about their business. LEGO plant that we visited in Denmark has ~800 employees. The LEGO facility that we visited manufactures and maintains inventories for different LEGO components.  We were given a tour of LEGO factory and warehouse. LEGO factory is highly automated, they have 64 machines running 24*7 and 2 operator are able to manage the operations!!! This factory can manufacture up to 3000 shapes in 60 different colors.

We all were given a LEGO task to be completed in the meeting room. We were told that the LEGO puzzle that we were given was designed for 7+ years old kids. It took forever for me to put the LEGO together. However the LEGO challenge kept me engaged the entire time. Plastic toy industry is very competitive. I was impressed by the fact that LEGO profit margin was~33%.

After the LEGO production facility visit we went to LEGO land, theme park by LEGO group. The theme park is small compared to Six Flags in the US. All the rides and attractions in the theme park is designed mostly for kids. We enjoyed couple of rides and my favorite ride was Polar Land roller coaster ride.

June 30 2015: Volvo Trucks and Cars Visit

Last evening after we arrived at the hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden, we (a group of 12) decided to take a walk around the city and have dinner somewhere outside. We ended up in Beerista in the city. We had dinner and our way back to the hotel we found a really nice place and we all stopped for a drink. We hung-out till 11:00PM and we decided to walk to the hotel. We walked around the hotel and we were up till 2-2:30 AM.

We started to Volvo Truck right after the breakfast @ 9:00AM. I am impressed with our group, no matter what time everyone went to bed the previous night, everyone on the bus on time every time [for the most part]!!!

We were given a guided tour of the Volvo Trucks assembly area in their tour car. They manufacture 60 trucks every day and they supply trucks to around 100 countries. Each country has different set of requirements and each truck is built per the specification. They do not manufacture trucks in bulk. Each truck has an owner/customer before they start the assembly/manufacture.  We visited Volvo museum after Volvo Trucks production plant. The museum is good but the lunch at the Sodexho cafeteria was not so good.

After the lunch we visited Volvo Cars. I felt Volvo Cars production plant is more automated than Volvo trucks. I was surprised to learn that they know the actual customer before they start assembling the cars. I was under the impression that they would manufacture cars in bulk and store them!!!

 

June 29 2015: Stora Enso

Another very early start, same drill wake up at 5:00AM get ready pack your bags and in the bus by 7:00AM. It was not difficult today; it has become more of a routine I guess.

We visited Stora Enso, one of the paper mills in Sweden. The company made ~10.2 Bil euros revenue in 2014. The company owns forests in the middle of Sweden. The company does not get the required raw material from their own forests instead they buy the wood from local forest farmers/owners within 50 mile radius.

As soon as we got to their facility, we were given hearing devices/headsets (Since It is noisy in the factory they have hearing device) and took us for a factory tour. The factory produced paper used for new papers. The tour guide explained to us that their production capacity was cut down by 40% as the demand for their product has gone down. They have turned down two of the production lines and cut down work force accordingly. The factory tour was bit of a walk in the morning (Atleast1.5 miles I think), the weather was nice and cool. I felt cutting down on use of paper is very good for the planet. However, I felt that the peole living in the small town of Hyltebruk will go through very tough time while the factory continues to cut down on the production.

20150629_051113

After the factory tour we all got into a meeting room and one of the presenters started walking us through the slides. They explained to us about how the production line shutdown has impacted the local communities. It is unfortunate that they have to go through difficult times. Towards the end of the presentation, the presenter asked us to sit in a group of 4 people and come up with new ideas that can take the company in a new direction. Everyone participated in the exercise and pitched their creative ideas.

 

Overall I left that the business that this factory is involved with is from last decade. The world has changed drastically in last 2 decades with internet and advancements in computing technology. I feel that the company needs to complete change their product/output to stay relevant to today’s needs.

June 29 2015: Stora Enso

Another very early start, same drill wake up at 5:00AM get ready pack your bags and in the bus by 7:00AM. It was not difficult today; it has become more of a routine I guess.

We visited Stora Enso, one of the paper mills in Sweden. The company made ~10.2 Bil euros revenue in 2014. The company owns forests in the middle of Sweden. The company does not get the required raw material from their own forests instead they buy the wood from local forest farmers/owners within 50 mile radius.

As soon as we got to their facility, we were given hearing devices/headsets (Since It is noisy in the factory they have hearing device) and took us for a factory tour. The factory produced paper used for new papers. The tour guide explained to us that their production capacity was cut down by 40% as the demand for their product has gone down. They have turned down two of the production lines and cut down work force accordingly. The factory tour was bit of a walk in the morning (Atleast1.5 miles I think), the weather was nice and cool. I felt cutting down on use of paper is very good for the planet. However, I felt that the peole living in the small town of Hyltebruk will go through very tough time while the factory continues to cut down on the production.

20150629_051113

After the factory tour we all got into a meeting room and one of the presenters started walking us through the slides. They explained to us about how the production line shutdown has impacted the local communities. It is unfortunate that they have to go through difficult times. Towards the end of the presentation, the presenter asked us to sit in a group of 4 people and come up with new ideas that can take the company in a new direction. Everyone participated in the exercise and pitched their creative ideas.

 

Overall I left that the business that this factory is involved with is from last decade. The world has changed drastically in last 2 decades with internet and advancements in computing technology. I feel that the company needs to complete change their product/output to stay relevant to today’s needs.

June 27 2015: Glass works and travel

Sunset on June 26th evening @ Jönköping was beautiful. We saw sunset from the boat bar @ Jönköping. We all sat on the boat bar till 10:00PM. Then we went to another bar close to hotel and hung-out till 12:45 AM. Sean met an English speaking Swedish guy; the guy was very happy and overwhelmed to meet Americans. He was at our table for quite some time talking about American TV shows and why he and his friends like Americans.

Jönköping - Sunset

On our way back to hotel we all decided to stop-by the pizza place. French fries on pizza!!! I saw it for the first time…!!! [I missed to click a picture!!!]. We were in the hotel by ~1:30AM. It was a very nice evening @ Jönköping.

June 27 morning we started @ 9:30 AM to Växjö. We stopped @ couple of glass works companies on our way to Växjö. It was a 45 minutes’ drive to Hyttsill Glassworks where we had our dinner. They had live music and glass work demonstration. Hyttsill dinner experience was kind of “Ok”, we got to experience a little bit of Swedish culture of communities living around glass works companies.

Tomorrow we are going to start @ 9:30 AM to go to a team building activity. Looking forward for outdoor fun @ Växjo.

June 26 2015: Ikea Visit

On our way from Saab to Ikea, we stopped at a Burger king for a quick lunch. We reached Ikea distribution center in Torsvik at ~1:30PM. Ikea distribution center was huge. They supply material to 39 stores from this DC. Ikea made ~28 Bil Euros revenue in 2014, they have ~147k employees. It was interesting to learn that they want to use 100% renewable energy to run their facilities and stores. The presenter explained that they have huge number of solar cells (250,000) on their facilities and also they have wind mills powering some of their facilitates.

Overall Ikea sells ~9500 products and they have ~1002 suppliers. Ikea has consistently worked on reducing number of suppliers. The presenter explained us a little bit of how they have changed their product designs to get parts supplied by fewer suppliers. The presenter also explained that they were able to innovate and save by getting thinner paper pallets instead of wooden pallets.

Ikea has separate supply chain and distribution centers for in-store and online sales. 59% of Ikea’s revenue is from European markets. Ikea is expanding into other countries including India and Brazil. Ikea is also looking into reducing the floor space in the stores. Ikea thinks that their store presence is very important to inspire/influence consumers.  Ikea will not be online only store, instead they want to have a showroom kind of stores and take orders on-line.

I was under the impression that the Ikea distribution would be completely automated. I was surprised to see a lot of manual operations. Some of the inbound operations including putting the goods on the shelves are automated however the outbound operations are manual. They had people moving goods manually from the DC shelf to the outbound gates. It was a busy distribution center with a lot of fork lift. Ikea employees with fork lifts were moving randomly from one place to another within the DC [Of course fork lift routes would be optimized to maximize the productivity but the way they were moving forklifts, I left that forklift can easily collide with each other]!!!

 

June 26 2015: Saab Visit

Everyone checked out from the hotel and on the bus @ 6:45 AM!!! It was a very early start. It was a 2 hour travel from the hotel to Saab production facility. We were excited to see the robotic lawn mower mowing the lawn in Saab campus. I wonder why this product is not available in the US!!

RobotLawn

Director of Business Development walked through the presentation at Saab. It was an interesting presentation. They have 33 offices around the world with ~15,000 employees. They sell their products in 100 countries. It was interesting to learn that Saab has to take Swedish government permission to sell their products/air crafts to different countries around the world. The business development group representative explained to us that they have different suppliers for their fighter plane assembly and their commercial planes. He also explained to us that they have very high R&D investments of ~20%-30% of sales. They are working on unmanned fighter planes.

After the presentation, we were taken for a factory/assembly line tour. They explained about how they have given the responsibility of quality check to their assembly line workers. I was surprised to learn that they don’t have a separate quality check after each stage of assembly. According to Saab professional who was walking us through the production facility, SaaB has actually improved the quality of their production line output by giving the quality responsibility to assembly line workers!!! As part of the production facility tour the tour guide showed us different fighter planes they have developed over the years.

June 23-24 2015: Silja Line Cruise and Vasa Museum

We all got out of Fiskars and made it to the ferry on time. We dropped out bags in our rooms and headed out to walk around the ship. We were a group of 5/6. We had picked up our drink on the way to the deck and we were hanging out on the deck for some few minutes. As the temperature dropped a little we all went inside. Hans sent a watsapp saying there is a cool place in 10 or 11 floor. We started looking for him and finally ended up in 7th floor bar. It turns out that he was lost or he sent wrong floor # in the whatsapp message. In few minutes everyone started coming to 7th floor bar. All of us sat around a table for ~ an hour. We slowly headed to 12th floor karaoke place. It was a very nice evening and almost everyone was there at 12th floor karaoke place. Everyone was having a great time. After few hours the karaoke was over and the dance floor was open. Everyone was dancing and having a lot of fun. We were there in the 12th floor till 2:30 AM. I loved seeing everyone having a great time.

I woke up at 7:45 AM and remembered Dr Hoopes saying that the morning view on the Baltic Sea is very beautiful. I went up to the deck alone. The view was beautiful but I couldn’t stay for more than 5-10 mins. I headed back to the room, slept for another half an hour and got ready to check out from the Cruise @ Stockholm. We went directly from the cruise to a guided city tour of Stockholm. I was not a big fan of our tour guide, I felt she was expressing her political views about immigration, conservative vs socialists etc on our city tour. I had headache, no morning coffee, no breakfast and our guide; it was not a good start in morning. We all got down near the city hall and everyone went on their way to get lunch. We went to an Italian restaurant and I started feeling a little better after the lunch. We all headed back to hotel freshened up a bit and we headed back to Vasa museum.

Vasa museum was cool. We just had 45 mins at the museum. Another hour at the museum would have been nice but we had our dinner table reservation at 5:00PM. We all headed back to the hotel, had our dinner and went straight to bed. So far every day has been better than the day before (Except for June 24 morning) and June 23rd evening on the cruise was lot of fun…

June 22 2015: Suunto

We had a very early start in the morning… we visited Kone in the morning and had lunch in Kone cafeteria. Then we all got into bus again and headed to Suunto, the Sports watch company. Director of Supply chains headed the discussions and the factory tour. Suunto visit was completely a different experience from Kone. Suunto products had fewer variations and seem to require fewer components when compared to Kone products. Suunto showed us their work cells and their distribution facility. Watch assembling and distribution happens in the same building. They also walked us through their production facility where they assemble different varieties of their watches. They have ~ 300 employees globally. Their production facility and distribution facility tour was interesting.

We came back to hotel @ ~4:30PM. We went out to a really nice place called Steam in Hellsinki. Couple of us hung out for couple of minutes and had dinner @ hot stones restaurant in the city. Two days in Helsinki were pretty good.