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.