Today we visited NUMMI, the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. This is a joint venture of Toyota and General Motors which was founded over twenty years ago to implement Toyota’s lean manufacturing process in a country outside of Japan. They produce the Toyota Corolla, Tacoma (a compact pickup) and Vibe. It was impressive to see the bodies being put together with the help of robots, and it was interesting to follow the Tacoma production line to see the car being completed piece by piece. Assembling of the vehicle only takes about 3.5 hours, and the complete process which starts with stamping the bodies from large coils of steel takes less then 24 hours (includes several hours of curing in an oven). Then, after some meetings, we had the evening event which some of our colleagues who stayed back in Germany were obviously looking forward to: We had the chance to tabour the drum together with Drum Cafe. All in all it was quite nice, and we already have concrete ideas of how to integrate similar events in our daily work (one was to replace our email systems by drums, but this turned out to be too challenging). So, lets see what else we can do 😉
Another easy day: Meetings. Came back a little earlier than the days before, so I had the chance to write the blog entries for Sunday and Monday.
Now, this turns out to be easy: started meetings at about 8am, came back to the hotel at about 11pm. Really nothing else … Therefore some tech talk 🙂 : One thing which really bothers me is the fact that I have to login to the wireless network of the hotel once a day. Not only that I have to type in a pseudo-private password, they also ask me for my name and my companies name each time. Of course it does not matter at all what is actually typed in there, and it seems that they are also able to locate the room from which their hotspot is accessed, and at each login they tell me that it is a fixed flatrate “per stay”. So the question remains: why is it necessary to relogin once a day?????
So, today we also had a free day since it was Sunday. The only constraint was dinner at about 6.00pm with our local colleagues. We decided to visit San Francisco, and to not waste time we met at 7.00 in the morning. Unfortunately the baggage of our two colleagues was still not delivered yet, so they decided to do another phone call. The baggage finally arrived at about 7.30, and we gave them a chance to change cloths. We then had breakfast at a coffee shop nearby (it must have been rather unusual for Americans to watch nine people *walk* across the street, but on the other hand not many other people were awake at that time, so probably no one really cared). After we had some croissants, coffee and juice we drove to San Francisco where we arrived at about 9am. We decided (or were decided) to conquer the city by foot. It later turned out to be quite exhausting, but it had the advantage that we could get a better impression of the city than only driving through it by car. We found a parking lot nearby the Bay Bridge (not to be confused with the Golden Gate Bridge) from where we started our tour. After some time we reached chinatown, where we went into some of the shops. Actually some of us had some weird ideas on how to improve our work with the stuff they sell there, but fortunately they only choked [UPDATE: This word is meant to be written “joked”. See comments.] 🙂 We then continued to climb a hill where Coit Tower is located. We did not climb the tower itself, basically because it costs $5 per person. But there is a parking area in front of the tower, from where we had a great view towards San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay. It was even possible to see Alcatraz from there. Our next station was Fishermens Wharf where we went through several piers, most notably Pier 39 where we could see the widely known sea lions taking a bath in the sun. Then, we proceeded to Ghirardelli to buy some chocolate. Since we were now already quite some time on our feet, we took the Cable Car (the station is located next to Ghirardelli) back to our car. We had to wait approximately one hour for the Cable Car wagon, but it was worth it: its really interesting how the wagon climbs the steep hills of San Francisco and drives down on the other side. We shortly thought about what happens if the brakes fail, but immediately forgot about that again and enjoyed the ride. It was quite late already as we came back to our car, but of course we still drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a parking area on the other side of the bridge with a great view to San Francisco and also the bridge itself. This was our last station before we drove back to San Jose.