From Concepts to Concrete Processes: Supply Chain 2019 Spring Abroad Tour in Germany

students pose for a group picture in Germany

For the third year in a row, students in the Master of Supply Chain Management program had the opportunity to immerse themselves in a global student experience via the spring break abroad tour. A group of 18 students spent nine days abroad, visiting five companies, and touring two cities, Munich and Berlin, Germany. Student participant, Aditi Mehta, sheds light on highlights from this year’s trip. 

Company & City Tours

Students visited companies at various stages of production such as Amazon Fresh a new face in the German market, but a heavyweight competitor in the supply chain world and Audi an automaker focused on getting their assembly line warehouse to the next level incorporating lean. “It was interesting to see that despite being so developed in their processes, Audi struggled with the level of customization they want to provide for their customers,” shared Aditi, referring to Audi’s challenge to continually optimize their plant lines for customization. 
multiple photos of students touring Germany

Every company operated uniquely and had its own perspective on supply chain. Recaro, best known for producing automobile bucket seats, had a strong “lean team” that influences each department (even HR) to incorporate lean in their work. Knorr-Bremse, another auto manufacturer was digging into issues involving optimum allocation of human resources and idle time of machines and other resources. One of the more interesting places of note for Aditi was T-labsthe R&D unit of Deutsche Telekom whose work focuses on cutting-edge technologies. “T-labs was altogether a different experience – we always hear about companies investing in blockchain, but most of them are unsure of its application. T-labs seems to be one step ahead working on actual solutions with Blockchain, which was fascinating.”  

One of the high points of the trip included a visit to Schwäbisch Hall, a small town where students learned about the local history and ingenuity of past inhabitants. Our amazing tour guide explained how in the early times the rent of the houses were calculated based on the land it stood on, Aditi explained. “Most house-makers found a “hack” by starting the actual measurement at an elevation from the ground covering less of the actual land, thereby paying less.”   

Creating Bonds and Connections

No learning opportunity was left untapped on the tour. “The trip was so well organized. I really liked that even while we were on the bus, on the way to other places, we were discussing everyone’s perspective of what we had seen. It helped to clarify the concepts we learned in class and create links between what companies are doing and our capstone projects.”

The educational and cultural components of the tour are purposely integrated into the trip, but students often find that getting to know their peers and sharing experiences with them is one of the unexpected bonuses of the trip. “The kind of connections and bonds created on this study tour were unbelievable. We saw a part of history together at the Berlin Wall and Settlement and we went on the yummiest historical food tasting tour. We all got a chance to spend time with each other with historic Germany in the background. At school, people are busy with work and classes, so it’s nice to get the chance to get to know each other on a personal level, build connections, and find out what my cohort is passionate about.” 

Want to hear about other student experiences abroad? Check out the spring abroad tour in Asia 

Written by Olga Jimenez
MSCM Content Strategy Writer
[email protected]