Business Visit to Akra Polyester

Nolan Driscoll (Student):   When I arrived in Mexico I was expecting pit stains and sun burn but when we arrived at “Akra Polyester” we were shivering and damp from rainfall. Although the weather hasn’t cooperated as we may have anticipated, it hasn’t stopped us from visiting our destinations. On December 27th, our second company of the day was “Akra Polyester”. Although we were tired from the previous day of traveling, an early morning wakeup call, and a visit to “Vitro” that morning, we were filled with a burst of energy from the welcoming committee at Akra. We were lucky enough to have many of the top managers of the company awaiting our arrival with smiles and handshakes. Upon entering the gates of the company, I felt that it was strange that such a large company is located in the middle of a noisy, street-filled, urbanized area. However, once on the compound, the noise seemed to evaporate. The almost rural atmosphere with many large grass fields had many large buildings in which the production of polyester takes place twenty four hours a day.

Once we entered the building, we were greeted and given an itinerary for the day from the managers of the supply chain, finance, and operations. I expected that they would have another worker take us on the tour of the compound, however, the operations manager personally brought us to each building. Not only did he give the tour, but he thoroughly explained what we were seeing, why certain pieces of machinery were important, and how each step in the production process. This kindness shown by the company really made us feel welcome and that they were proud to teach us about their jobs.  I learned that polyester production is an extremely complex process that needs to be monitored. Although the company is extremely profitable and productive, I found two aspects of the company extremely interesting. First, the company had just shut down part of the plant that day because it wasn’t as productive. Although this is a smart business decision, I learned that the building will no longer be in use. This seems to be wasteful because there is valuable equipment and space that will be laying idle. Secondly, I learned that the company does not have a recycling program set up yet. However, the manager did say that they were planning on implementing a program the following year. The main reason they don’t have a recycling program already in place is because of the culture of the country. In Mexico, many people simply throw something in the garbage once it has been used whether it can be recycled or not. Although this is the culture presently, Akra is seeking to slowly change this in order to be more sustainable.

In my opinion, although the company is very effective in their production process, the most interesting thing I learned is that they video tape when they load their trucks. By doing this, they get the green light at the American border which decreases delivery time to their customers. Although this may seem to be a minor detail, this shows that they care about their relationships with their customers. One other interesting piece of information I learned is that they keep back up pieces of machinery right next to the machine in order to fix any problems almost instantly. This is vital because they don’t let small setbacks greatly affect their production for the day and just as it is in other businesses, time is money.

Although we may have been tired, we did learn that the polyester production is extremely necessary in society. If you don’t agree, next time you are in your car and slam on the brakes and your seat belt keeps you safely in your car, you can thank Akra.

Sorry that I don’t have any pictures from the visit, I didn’t have my phone on me.

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5 Comments

  1. CU blog

    Like Nolan said, expectations were low going into this visit as it was the second one that morning and polyester doesn’t seem very interesting to a bunch of tired and hungry students. Upon arrival,however, the enthusiasm of our guide quickly got my attention and kept me engaged in the tour. I really enjoyed how he was able to explain everything so thoroughly and yet speak without talking over my head or give the impression of talking down either. His knowledge of the business from the science behind the polymers themselves to the production process and down through the distribution process led to a very informative and thorough tour. ~RJ

  2. CU blog

    The tour guide was really knowledgeable about the processes in the plant. The thing that I found most impressive was that they only shut down for about 23 days, every 10 years. They are kept going 24/7 and these 23 days are still considered too long of a shutdown and they are urged to make it even shorter. I didn’t know companies ran like this anywhere and it was a different experience to learn this.
    Jordan Wyble

  3. Jake

    I agree with Charlene and Kavi as the tour guide at akra was very impressive. He knew just about everything there was to know about the company and shared it with us enthusiastically. He told us he had worked at Akra for just over 20 years thus his knowledge was vast. Great tour!

  4. Kavian Kavianpour

    I was impressed with Akra’s ability to maintain a factory so intricate. The workers were all extremely polite and the tour guide really knew what he was talking about. He knew the implications of every job from the bottom up and was very enthusiastic when he was explaining that plant.

  5. CU blog

    I enjoyed the visit to AKRA. I agree with point Nolan made about the top executives…very impressive. I was also very impressed by the rest of the employees, all smiling at us and moving their spools around so we could get thru with ease. The plant was also very clean and well maintained. What I most appreciated in addition to their passion was the care and time they took for us. Charlene Marisol

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