Here’s an excerpt from our Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) 2016 study abroad group. You can see all of their posts from the summer on their website at http://2016lsue3.wix.com/geaux.
“Worth the Trek” by Estin Field
Our day began early as we headed out to Corratec, a company who designs and assembles a wide variety of bikes. After a long train ride, we wandered through the city until we finally found our destination. Corratec was like no other excursion we have had so far; we were not led by a tour guide, but instead their head research and development engineer. Because he was an engineer he was able to explain the design process in great detail. Before our tour began, we had a special visitor: the CEO and founder of Corratec. He was happy to have us there, and answered any questions we had. He mentioned that his job gets harder everyday as his company expands. When asked about the vision he had for his company, he said he wanted to be different from other bike companies, and to also follow a different path than his father before him.
After beginning the tour I was very surprised. The process began with a single, human worker attaching spokes to rim that were reinforced by an automated machine. The worker also had assistance from high-tech machine spinning the rim as she attached the spokes. This was a big difference from BMW and Porsche, who have robots assembling their products. The bikes were then moved through the shop by hooks that moved on a track on the ceiling. Human workers assembled various parts of the frames as the hooks came by.
After finishing the factory tour, we were shown the engineering office. There, they used SolidWorks to design various bike components and overall products. This is the same program Mrs. Paige Davis taught many of us in her CM 1020 class. We learned how they design and make prototype models for future bikes. Overall, this was one of the most interesting factory tours we’ve had, and definitely one of my favorites!