GREER — As part of the Union County School District’s workforce development goal, local administrators toured BMW on Tuesday.
During the 2011-2012 school year, UCHS teachers and administrators toured three local industries — Timken, Gestamp and Haemonetics — as part of the district’s ongoing efforts to promote career awareness and strengthen business and educational partnerships.
On Tuesday, eight local administrators visited the BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer. The administrators were principals Anita Maness, Barbara Palmer, Melissa Inman, Rene Pryor, Betsy Trakas, Mickey Connolly and Eric Childers, as well as Director of Special Services Jeff Stribble. The purpose of the tour was to allow administrators to see how different the workplace is compared to when they entered the workforce.
“We not only prepare students for higher education, but also for the workforce,” Trakas said. “Jobs have changed so much in even the last 10 years and are continuing to change. It’s important for us as educators to see how jobs have changed since we entered the workforce.”
The principals walked through the assembly plant, watching the process of a car being put together — from the time the body comes from being painted to the point that the car is driven away from the plant. The effort was a combination of robotics and human power.
The tour guide emphasized teamwork in each part of the process, and teams worked together to perform efficiently, safely and accurately.
“Everybody was amazed by how many tiny details had to come together just right to make a car,” Trakas said, giving the example of someone having to configure the conveyor belt to ensure the car doors arrived at the same time as the body they went with.
As the auto bodies arrived on the conveyor belt, workers installed the parts such as the instrument panel, engine and fluid.
“At some points, as many as six team members — each with different jobs for that part of the process — worked independently to get their part done, but also as a team to work efficiently, accurately and safely so the car could continue to move along the conveyor belt,” Trakas said.
Trakas said the ergonomic aspect of the process was also interesting. She said the cars turned so that workers were in proper ergonomic positions so that injuries were not sustained. She also mentioned that when the empty body of the car arrived, a robotic chair rode workers inside the body, turning 360 degrees. When they were finished, the chair backed them out and the car continued down the line.
The trip was one of many efforts that will take place this year to further the district toward its workforce development goal.