Operations Club: Subaru Plant Visit Highlight

January 21, 2013
      

The first week of mod 3 was the busiest week so far, or maybe I was just spoiled by the winter break. It was refreshing to get a chance to step outside the study rooms on Friday and visit the Subaru plant in Lafayette. We reached the plant at 9:00AM and started looking around curiously.

The first thing that comes to mind when you see the factory is the location. The plant has access to major state highways, railways and of course high density of labor and skilled work force. And our host for the day, Char confirmed that this was a well thought out plan and not a happy coincidence.

 

We were taken on a catwalk tour so that we could get a birds eye view of the various processes that were taking place at the factory. We started out from the paint section and walked our way to different parts in the plant where raw steel and plastic was being cast into what would be the final parts in the car. Throughout the tour, we were being provided with interesting trivia and facts that really put a constantly bemused look on all of our faces.

 

The visit to Subaru further enhanced the mental association we make between Japanese and quality. The factory had so many centers and methods to check for defects and to maintain the highest possible quality of the final product. From using female ostrich feathers for dusting to using RFID tags to match cars with their doors, they were obsessing on quality at each level. They proudly recall that they make 12,000 Camrys in a JV with Toyota and that these Camrys had a higher safety rating than those made in Toyota Japan.

 

For those interested in HR, there was no dearth of information about how the staff was taken care of by adjusting their shifts, providing therapy, facilities like gyms and snack corners, creating a Purdue teaching area to help employees to improve their skillsets.

 

Overall, the trip was a really exciting one as it was informative and fun at the same time. Getting an opportunity to visit one of the best examples of operations management just when we got started on the subject was a great experience for us 1st years.

Gopalakrishnan Vaikuntam
1st year MBA Student





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