Crossing into mainland China is like entering another world. We left Hong Kong’s shopping malls, nice cars and Cantonese/English signs and entered Beijing controlled Shenzhen. We spent the next four days touring the Pearl River Delta.
We visited the Yantian International Container Terminal first. Cargo ships filled goods bound for America start here. It was interesting to see the counterpart of the port of Longbeach. Yantian is one of the biggest ports in the world.
We completed our upstream tour of Target’s supply chain the next day. We visited a toy doll manufacture and a furniture factory. We watched as the products went from raw material to packaged, finished product, FOB factory door (i.e. Target’s property in China).
At the doll factory we saw men molding plastic and women in assembly lines combing hair, putting clothes on, and packaging the dolls. At the furniture factory we saw sparks fly, metal cut, and machines move aluminum into giant red hot ovens. This is where the retail products we buy every day are made.
It was amazing to see what we’re learning in Operations Management play out in front of us. All our heads turned back to Professor Hasler whenever we heard a factory manager mention a bottleneck, 6 sigma, or statistical process control.
We visited the tech factory where Texas Instrument calculators are made. We dawned white jackets and footies and entered the clean room where hundreds of workers and machines build electronics on assembly lines. We counted the cycle time: one calculator every 4 seconds.
At every factory, managers greeted us with huge smiles and free refreshments. We watched presentations in nice, air conditioned boardrooms one minute and breathed the air in factories filled with hundreds of laborers working assembly lines for $150 a month.
South China is a different world. Signs reading “No Pain, No Gain” hang on the wall of the factories. People (mostly teenagers from rural parts of China) fall in on the assembly line to fasten, paint, weld, mold, soder, screw, attach, and assemble the same product every day for hours at a time. Yet, these jobs are lifting millions out of poverty.
It makes me humbled for the opportunities I’m given at McCombs and thankful to be an American.
The relationships forming between everyone on this trip have been the best part. Our adventures last week really solidified us as a group. At nights we ate Korean BBQ together and cheered on the USA in the world cup. Professor Hasler told us stories from when he was in business and told us to look around: ten years from now we’ll realize the people we are on this trip with are our network.
That weekend 15 of us took a weekend trip to Beijing. We stayed in a hostel with college-aged students from around the world. We saw Tienamen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Olympic stadium.
A few of us ran into two businessmen from Houston on the Great Wall. They were doing quality inspection at one of their vendors’ factories near Beijing. When they found out we were McCombs students, they said to give them a call if we’re interested in a job. Recruitment on the Great Wall of China? That may (or may not) be a first in McCombs’ history.
Next stop: 4th of July cruise and BBQ to celebrate America’s independence in south China. Final week in Hong Kong!