Friday, January 27, 2012

Plant Trek: Amazon

*Note this pic is from google, we weren't allowed to take pictures inside

Before our tour at Amazon, I had never thought about what it must take Amazon to get just about anything in the mail to me within 2 days. I have a newfound appreciation for what they do. One of the best parts of the tour was just walking around their “libraries” of items. I saw just about everything that day even gingerbread marshmallows. I also enjoyed seeing the automatic packer that creates a box around the product and then with bar codes figures out which city it is going to and sends it to the right truck all automatically. It was all really, really impressive. I want to meet the people that designed the ‘production’ process and the people who made the optimization program that says where all the product needs to be across the US and how much to store where.

Fun Facts:
  • The facility general manager was an LGO grad.
  • Work Hard. Have Fun. Make History. This was above the front doors as we walked in the facility and I like it.
  • The Phoenix facility ships hundreds of thousands of items per day.
  • Amazon started by fulfilling orders in Jeff Bezos’ home.
  • They increase their employee base with 3X the workers over the holidays
  • The last item bought and delivered before Christmas was ordered at 2:35pm and was delivered at 6:15pm. It was a rechargeable battery pack.
  • If you stacked up the all of the copies sold during the 2011 holiday season of the Steve Jobs book it would be taller than Mt. Everest.
  • None of Amazon’s sites are unionized.
  • Amazon runs the largest website in the world.
  • It only takes moments between when you place an order on and when it arrives in a picker’s handset to go find.
  • It takes 1-2 hours between the picker getting it to it being sorted, packed, and on to a UPS truck.

Plant Trek: Boeing

For the Boeing tour started with the 737 Delivery Center and Paint Hangers. We went to the Future of Flight Aviation Center after the facility tours. We had an executive lunch and I enjoyed getting to talk with head of Boeing defense engineering. Lunch was followed by the Everett factory tour where we saw the 787 and 777 lines being made. The final stop was the 787 Dreamliner Gallery Tour, which was my favorite part. This is where Boeing brings customers to help them pick out their plane seats, lavatories, crew quarters, and fabric/color schemes. We were like a bunch of kids in a playground!

Fun Facts:
  • Disneyland’s footprint can fit into Boeing’s Everett facility
  • A fellow LGO, Ben Mussi, has 6 patents on the 787- Boeing’s newest airplane
  • Another fellow LGO, Erick Corona, has flown on 34 test flights of the 787
  • 48% of Boeing’s workforce is eligible for retirement in the next 4 years
  • The hanger that cures the paint job is kept at 120 degrees
  • It takes 40-60 gallons to paint an airplane; this adds 200-450 lbs of weight
  • A Boeing airplane retails for $70M
  • The last plane Boeing introduced before the 787 was the 777 which was first sold in 1992- 20 years ago
  • The Everett facility is the largest building in the world by volume (472,370,319 cu ft) and covers 98.3 acres
  • There were birds flying around the facility

Thursday, January 26, 2012

InterviewFest Preparations

This time last year I was overjoyed to have gotten an invitation to InterviewFest and I know those that have been selected to interview this year are probably feeling excited and nervous about next Friday and Monday. I typically go overboard on these types of things so if you don't do all the stuff I did you'll probably be fine, but if you are looking for more ways to prepare, this might give you some ideas. I prepared for my interview by reading official (Sloan and LGO admissions) and unofficial (blogs, clearadmit, and other websites) interview advice and compiled the following checklist:

To prep for the LGO interview I…

…reviewed a ton of past Sloan interview questions from ClearAdmit’s website and grouped the questions into themes. From there I came up with multiple stories that would fit those types of questions and mapped out the STAR (situation, task, action, result) for the story. I even practiced saying the stories aloud making sure I could get to my points quickly and concisely. Be prepared to have the interviewer probe into your story for lots of details about how you, your boss, peers, etc felt, what you/they did, etc.
…prepped for LGO specific questions like- why LGO, why are you interested in XYZ engineering discipline, how will you contribute to LGO, etc.
…did a bunch of research on all the partner companies. I thought about which ones I was the most interested in and why.
…looked up common MBA interview mistakes.
…created a list of four or so ‘brand themes’ I wanted to cover and had specific short stories to reinforce them. I thought about possible weaknesses in my application as areas to focus on in the interview (if possible).
…reviewed my application and was familiar with my essays.
…had a friend give me a mock interview from the sample questions I had compiled (above).
…and finally, relaxed, got lots of sleep the night before, and knew that if LGO was meant to be it would happen!

Good luck to all the folks interviewing over the next couple of weeks! I'm looking forward to meeting everyone on campus! If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Plant Trek: GM & Ford

Our second stop of the plant trek was in Detroit, Michigan to visit GM’s and Ford’s auto assembly plants. Many of the LGOs had never been in a car manufacturing plant- it was quite an eye opening experience!

At GM our day was spent touring their newest North American facility, the GM Lansing Delta Township that makes GM crossovers, having a hands-on experience with their Simulated Work Environment (SWE), and the Detroit car show. All of which were fantastic! We interacted with very enthusiastic workers that were clearly passionate about and proud of their work. My group’s tour guide had worked for GM for over 30 years and was at Lansing when they produced the first and one-millionth crossover. Even the operators on the floor seemed to be smiling and had a good attitude.

GM hosted us at the Detroit North American Auto Show that evening. I enjoyed seeing the concept cars and high-end cars that I will most likely never own (never hurts to dream, right?).

Fun GM Facts:
  • First of all, robots are ah-mazing! They have the strength to crush the piece of metal they are working with, but at the same time the sensitivity to not even make a dent in the car body’s metal. The preciseness is really unbelievable.
  • In the body shop the sparks flew everywhere – even up to the ceiling.
  • Once the metal body of the car is complete it is moved between buildings via the ‘gerbil tube’ that allows the skeleton to stay indoors the entire time.
  • ‘Skillets’ move the car along the assembly line to allow the operator to move with the car when working. The skillets also elevated the car 0-5 feet in the air depending on the task being performed to minimize the strain on the operator.
  • One of my favorite things about the plant was how they have completely different make/models/colors/specs coming down the line. It would be a blue Chevy with a sunroof, followed by a red GMC, followed by a green Buick, etc. All of the parts were sequenced by the supplier and given in the order that the operator would need to assemble them in.
  • Along the same lines, the doors are on during painting to ensure the exact color is used for the whole car but then the doors are taken off to remove the extra 3-4 steps each operator would have to take to move around the doors on each of the 100 operations that need to be done to the interior. At the end of the assembly the same doors find their way back to the crossover on the other side of the plant to be finally assembled- so neat!
  • I liked the automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that move based on magnets in the floor and bring the right type of engine below the vehicle, in just the right spot, to bring the two together. These AGVs also knew when they were low on battery and would go back to the charging station on their own.
  • The crossovers are tested in a torrential downpour to ensure there are no leaks as well as driven over different type terrains to check for squeaking or rattling.

The following day we visited the Ford Dearborn Truck plant that makes F-150s. It is located in the Ford Rouge Center. The plant was not quite as impressive as GM’s but I’ve heard that most of GM’s older plants are similar to what we saw today at Ford’s facility.

Fun Ford Facts:
  • The Rouge Center is 1 mile X 1.5 miles
  • It was bought by Henry Ford in 1915
  • This center has made WWI anti-submarines, tractors, WWII jeeps, tanks and airplane engines, and the Mustang from 1964-2004 – lots of history!
  • The roof of the plant is the largest ‘living roof’ with a 10.4 acre garden on top 
I feel like we have done so much in a very short amount of time! It is amazing to think that we still have four more plants to tour! Woohooo!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Plant Trek: CAT

The first stop of the plant trek was Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois. The CAT team did a wonderful job hosting us. When we arrived Sunday night, they gave us a reception where we got to meet and greet with CAT executives. The surf & turf + open bar weren’t a bad addition. J

The site visit on Monday included a plant tour, a few presentations, simulations, product demonstration, and a panel discussion. It was a perfect mix of activities! The highlight definitely had to be the product demonstration. The operators did some crazy stuff with GIANT machines. Who knew a bulldozer could be so entertaining! At the end of the demo they let us climb all over the machines. I didn’t want to leave!

It will be very hard to top this first stop on the plant trek!

Fun CAT Facts
  • CAT’s name was almost ‘Mud Turtles’
  • The top 5-6 executives have 200+ years of CAT experience - CAT employees stay CAT employees and they like to promote from within
  • The operator’s choice of music is piped over the loud speakers to alert supervisors of issues on the floor and a text message sent to the supervisor in addition to standard andons
  • One of their bulldozers has a 550 gallon tank and it takes only 12 hours of use to deplete it
  • Their floors are reinforced with steel to support their machines, one of which is 250,000 lbs- the floors vibrated when it drove by
  • Built to be rebuilt – parts are made modular and with such quality that it can be reused over and over again
  • 70% of the product manufactured in the facility we visited is shipped internationally; each machine has a magnetic flag attached to it indicating the country to which it would be shipped
  • They are the largest consumer of steel
  • Customer focus is 1) uptime/equipment availability, 2) productivity, and 3) fuel efficiency

And finally,
  • “The key message is, ‘We want you.’” – CAT Executive