Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shannon on the GM visit

GM Visit: Today was one of the best customer visits Curtis and I have been on, in the 3 years of participating on this trip. It was great to see a production assembly plant. The engine assembly was very fascinating in that they produce 70 engines an hour! They are much smaller than the typical US engine, but again, gasoline is around $6.30 a gallon here!

We went on to the car assembly, where the only robot we saw was one to install the glass windshields. We walked from start to finish, and saw them drive off the line! The defect rate was quite high at 20%. Mostly gap issues, etc. Plenty of run to improve, but Six Sigma hasn't spread here yet. Overall a great visit!

Martine's thoughts so far

We had a truly interesting visit this morning of the GM assembly line, close to Sao Paulo.  I had only seen videos and pictures, and "walking" the line was fascinating.  Even more fascinating was watching the true excitement and delight of engineering experts such as Raida and Curtis!  Lori Feldman went off, on foot, to find a place to have lunch and got side-tracked by a gift shop where we bought a lot without doing too much damage.  I for one am very happy with the gifts I am bringing back to Indiana.

Reflections on the GM visit - Scott

We visited General Motors do Brasil (located in Sau Paulo), in which we experienced a presentation and plant tours of their engine plant as well as their assembly plant.  General Motors do Brasil is the largest subsidiary of General Motors in South America and the second largest outside the United States.
Some interesting facts we learned about their business were the following:
·         ~2,200 engines are made per day for each engine class (e.g. 4 cylinder 1.0 liter, 4 cyclinder 1.2 liter, etc..)
·         8 hour work day for employees
·         8,000 Engine Plant personnel
·         1,000 Assembly Plant personnel
·         80% car approvals / 20% rejection (defective)
·         Employees receive 30 paid holidays per year
·         Entry level employees get paid ~200 Reals/week

The plant tours were amazing as the majority of us have never stepped foot in an automobile plant before.  I am not sure if anyone else felt the same but I actually left this visit today with a little more appreciation of the vehicle I drive.  There are many steps to manufacturing a vehicle.  Engineering, supply chain, organization, personnel, quality assurance, etc are all vital elements.  If any of these components are not managed properly, it could be detrimental to the final product.

p.s.  One of the neatest processes to watch was the marriage between the body of the car and the engine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 3 - Ballet de Santa Theresa - from Scott

Visiting the Santa Teresa Ballet non-profit organization in Rio de Janeiro was undoubtedly one of the most inspirational stories I have heard and learned about on this Brazil trip thus far.  This non-profit organization essentially was started because a 4 year young girl from the community of Morro de Coroa, 2nd largest favela  in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, asked her teacher when she was going to teach her ballet.
Santa Teresa Ballet serves kids from the ages of 7-18 daily that reside in areas of social risk.  Most of them are young girls.  Examples of activities that are complimentary and accompanied by instructional orientation and social assistance range from classical ballet lessons and music and chorus to presentation programs and English classes.  Since the inception of the program, 700 families (1000 children) have been assisted through projects such as “First Steps”, “Ballet da Letras” and “Spectacle”.
Only $250 out of $400 Reals per child (Brazil Currency) are covered by the state which means it is important to raise necessary funds for this organization to keep assisting the children.  Some of the future plans for Santa Teresa Ballet are to strengthen its projects, establish new partnerships and sustain the institution.   It was an honor to visit and hear a presentation at the Santa Teresa Ballet non-profit organization.  It was truly inspirational!

Day 5 - Thoughts from Seth

We have been very fortunate (in my opinion) to have visited with diverse companies here in Brazil.  We've been able to see both non-profit organizations and for-profit companies who contribute both to society & to their shareholders in unique ways.  In all of our visits thus far, the common theme has definitely been the "cultural" differences between doing business in Brazil vs. what we see and experience in the US.  We have heard over and over again how important it is to build relationships and trust first before considering closing a deal.  The notion of instant gratification that many businesses are accustomed to in the US would simply not work here.  We are used to meeting a couple times and perhaps going to dinner and then signing on the dotted line.  Here, they often take 6 months to get to know one another before considering entering into a business relationship.

We heard today from an investment banker (who is originally from Indiana and taught for 2 years at PU) that he was recently part of a transaction where they valued a company at ~$90 Million Reais and because of a relationship the owners had with one particular bidder, they settled for a bid of ~$65 Million Reais.  While we may view this as ludicrous in the US, the owners didn't think twice about it or even consider that they may be taken advantage of by someone they knew.  He commented that the owners didn't feel like they needed any more money and were happy to be able to sell to someone that they had a connection with.  It truly is a different way of doing business and viewing life in general in many respects.

Day 1 - Reflections from Millie

If I had to use one word to describe Brazil thus far, it would be phenomenal. It is what I imagined and more. The people, the food, the culture have all been phenomenal.   The people are warm and friendly and for the most part want to help. I want to give a special thanks to Antonio for assisting me from the moment I board the plane in Miami, until arriving in Brazil. He is a true ambassador for his country.  Second special thanks to Lucia , our tour guide in Rio, for sharing her warmth , passion, sincere concern, insights, and thought of Brazil. She is also a TRUE ambassador for Brazil. I highly recommend her for any trips to Rio.
Our first night in Rio will be forever memorable.  We had a “scrump dillyishus “  dinner at a Brazilian steak house.  The food , drinks, and company was phenomenal. Everyone was gracious, warm, and accommodating.  Thereafter, with our tummy’s full; we wanted to experience the nightlife we have heard so much about. Several of the alumni and a few of us current students ventured out looking for fun…and WE FOUND IT!!!!  Our first choice of clubs had a line that wrapped around two blocks; being the impatient people we are J we decided not to wait. We found another club (playing James brown) and went in. There were a very few people there to our initial dismay.  We grabbed a drink and several of us (not me at that time) started dancing the electric slide.  Several of the local Brazilians decided to try and learn and jumped in. People from the street began to look in and see what was going on and decided to come in.  PURDUE got the party started …whooo hoooo…  within an hour the place was was hoping… and we were right there in the middle of it.  Within a few hours a live band began to play…  They were phenomenal.   Unfortunately fatigue set in and we left the club about 2:30 pm  looking for a taxi to get us back to the hotel.  We had been traveling for 24 hours,  arriving at 7 :30 am Brazilian time ( 3:00 am our time ) ;  hung out until 2:00 pm ; went to a meeting; checked into our rooms at 3:30 pm , went to  dinner, and then straight to the club. We had not rested ….. but we represented well J    That is how this trip started J J

Day 2 - up on mountains

We were so lucky. The sun stayed out most of the day and the rain stayed away! 

Our first visit of the day was to Pao de Acucar - Sugarloaf Mountain.  It was named by the first settlers who saw it and thought that it resembled a lump of raw sugar. During the seventeenth century sugar cane was the primary export of Brazil and upon completion of the processing the finished product was packed into bread like loaves for shipment. Hence the name Sugar Loaf. It is said to have the best 360 degree view of Rio from one place.  When we arrived, Licia (our guide) showed us a 300 year old mango tree growing in the middle of the building that houses the tram which takes you to the top of the mountain.  It was an amazing tree and was still bearing fruit that we could see.  The lines for the tram were VERY long because of the upcoming Brazilian national holiday and because the Christ the Redeemer statue was shrouded in fog.  The statue is another place to get wonderful views of Rio. 

The line moved quickly and we soon got on an efficient tram which took us to the midway point where we saw wonderful views of the 8-mile long bridge, Copacabana beach, and many other parts of Rio.  There was still a bit of fog, but we could still see a lot.  We then took the second tram all the way up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and lo and behold, the clouds parted and we got a GREAT view of the city.

Our next stop was the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro (Catedral de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro). It is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro. The current church was built between 1964 and 1979 and replaced a series of old churches that had served as cathedrals since 1676. It is located in the center of the city. Conical in form and with a 96 metres (315 ft) internal diameter and an overall height of 75 metres (246 ft), it has a standing-room capacity of 20,000 people. The cathedral's four rectilinear stained glass windows soar 64 metres (210 ft) from floor to ceiling.

Although it was optional, and because the weather was clearing up, most of the
 group then decided to continue on to the Tijuca National Park on Corcovado Mountain where the Chriso Redempto statue is.  It was two very long van rides up to the top.  The private van company can take you about 80% of the way up and then you have to take a government van the rest of the way up.  The ride was full of switchbacks which the expert drivers maneuvered easily.  I am constantly amazed at the skill of the bus drivers and these van drivers. 

Once we got to the top, we were not quite at the top.  There were still several flights of steep stairs to climb to truly get to the statue.  Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: Cristo Redentor) is considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world and the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world. It is 39.6 metres (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 metres (31 ft) pedestal, and 30 metres (98 ft) wide. It weighs 635 tons. It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931. It is an icon of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. It is also now considered one of the wonders of the modern world.   

It is truly, truly amazing and a sight not to be missed.  We were thrilled that the sun came out just at that time.  It is hard to believe how big it really is and the peaceful feeling you get in its presence.  As you would expect, there were many, many people taking pictures not only of the statue, but of themselves in Jesus' pose and to get an idea of the huge scale of this work of art.

The midpoint down had a nice little area for lunch where we ate.  Apparently the not dogs were not very tasty but my chicken and cheese empanada had a flaky crust and was yummy.  I also had more of the acai frozen concoction and introduced to a few more of us in the group :)  See the picture to the right.

Many of us wanted to hurry down so we could go to the "Hippie" market in town.  It is a craft fair that is held only on Sundays and was only a few short blocks from our hotel.  There was an amazing selection of leather goods, toys, and other handicrafts.  Since we all knew where we were, we all went our separate ways and met back up at the hotel.