20 August by Macarena Sandrock
This was a crazy day!! After breakfast in the hotel, some of us went with Dario to little hike around the place and others packed our things. Then we left the hotel to catch the boat. We met there with Fabienne, the representative of the Swiss government, Peter from Swiss Pavillion and with Sabine’s father. In the boat everyone was finishing the last details of their presentation and at the same time, looking the nice view from the mountains and the lake. I really could not believe that this amazing trip was finally getting to the end. The boat brought us to Ebach. There we visited Victorinox, where the world-wide-known knives are done. They had a meal prepared for us that we enjoyed with the view of the valley. After lunch we change our clothes and we dressed our national or typical costume. It was very nice how everyone has a different style.
The tour started. The process is certainly amazing; they have two different processes to assemble the knives. One is automatic and the other one is hand-made. So, they first cut the steel with the shape that they want for the knife. They put some pieces in a machine with ceramic stones and water to polish and make them shiny. The pieces also go to a hardening process. Not all the pieces have the same hardness; it depends on the composition of the steel. They change the composition exposing the pieces to a 1050 degrees heat aprox and changing they molecular structure. Here they define the flexibility and the hardness for every piece. Then we saw how they adjust the thickness so every piece has the right dimension. They also produce the plastic coverts with twenty different colors, but the red one is the predominant. Then they let us assemble our own knife. I think this was the most exciting part of the tour! Everyone was very happy and interested in doing this for themselves. We saw how two ladies were working and then they guide us to put the right part in the correct place. We also wrote our names in the knife, I mean, we told them our names and they wrote them down. So, there is a department where the specials knives are done step by step by persons, and after others check them so they can assure the quality of the product.
The automatic process was very interesting too. A lot of machines assemble every part perfectly. And finally two or more persons check the knife to see if everything is ok.
What really surprised me was the recycle system that they have implemented in the company. Every piece of steel they send it back to the steel supplier to make cheaper steel, and even the leftovers of the polishing process they reuse, compressed them again. For the heated water that they use for cooling the processes down they also have a use. They heat the entire building and other 120 apartment in the nearby with the pipe-tube system. That is really something amazing! How they are using even their waste for something useful! I hope more companies in Chile could start using this system so we can reduce our consumption of wood for the heating.
Other important and valuable thing of this company is that they offer job for local people and also to persons who have some incapacity, for example, persons that cannot see. That is the case of Mr. Heinzer who is blind and has worked for the company for forty-six years, he really loves to work assembling knives and he is also afraid for the future cause in two more years he will retire, but he loves his work so much that he doesn’t want to leave! That is impressive!!! He could have a normal life thanks to Victorinox that gave him the opportunity to work there. But Mr. Heinzer is not the only one, there are at least other 25 people who have some kind of problems but with the help that Victorinox provides them they can have a normal life now. That show us how this company cares about their workers and how helpful and enjoying the work can be for them. This is part of the tradition of the company that for years has been in the hands of the same family, this is an important fact for the environment inside Victonrinox.
The moment of the presentation was finally there. We were nervous but at the same time we wanted to finish this last challenge. One by one the groups presented their ideas. It was a special moment, some cried others laughed others keep in the same normal mood. We voted one for the other one and finally we had the winners. It was a hard decision for the jury to choose, because all of us have done our best. Finally, for my surprise Mohit, Debbie and I were the chosen ones. I still cannot believe it! We received a wonderful watch from Victorinox and all of us had like 200 ChF to spent in the store. That was a crazy moment, we couldn’t decide what to bring, and thinking in our family and friends, and what was the best choice. Some of us were practical and bought some stuff for the kitchen, others brought knives for their entire family and others just picked the best thing they could for themselves. Then, we rushed, packed our things and run for the bus. We had to change trains a lot! Like in the entire trip! Now we can say that we are experts catching trains and moving fast. Little by little we left Gao and Tiffany behind, cause they were already going back to their homes. The rest of us continued traveled together to Sabine’s parent’s house. Night has come. There, in Jakobstahl, they received us with a beautiful path with little candles all over the garden. It was very romantic and we ate dinner outside. For the end of this report I leave the best part, we saw volcano firework with all the family, and Mohit Chris and I slept in the treehouse! Our child dream came true! Tomorrow we say goodbye, but I know that we will meet each other, hopefully soon. This was the best experience I had have in this years that opened my eyes and made me aware of what is happening around me, this was really revealing and I hope I can share this with my friends back in Chile.