Greetings from the US

by Noë van Bergen, winner of the Egemin ie-net Award 2013

The start of 2014 has been my start at Egemin USA. I left Belgium a couple of days early so that I could spend some holiday time at the place where I had an intermediate landing: New York City. What a great idea!

The first night in the US was a complete shock. I came out of the subway at the middle of Times Square and looked up in the sky. Huge flashing billboards and so much snow falling down that you couldn’t even see the top of the buildings. That would be the start of a three day rush in one of the most awesome places I’ve ever been.

Because of exceptionally extreme winter weather, the second part of my journey towards the American Egemin establishment proceeded less flawlessly. After my flight being cancelled twice and 24 hours of waiting at the airport, I got lucky to get onto one of the few departing planes.

At first, it seemed that I had made it to the North Pole. Through the plane’s little windows I could see the wide landscape all covered in snow. I never heard about ‘whiteouts’ before but I experienced them during the ride towards my final destination; one loses track of orientation because of a purely white surrounding. You only realize how cold it is when you see that after driving a car for three days, the snow you accidentally spilled in it on day one is still there. The degrees Fahrenheit people use here as a temperature scale, are pretty confusing. The way I remember it is that at 32°F it starts freezing, 0°F is very cold and whenever you see a ‘minus’, take care and stay in the house.

The way of living is quite different from the city life I’m used to in Antwerp, but I enjoy it to the fullest. I have two new best friends whom I always rely on: my car and my credit card. There are at least 40 different (fast food) restaurants in a 2 miles radius I never heard of before. Moreover I have this huge hypermarket close by where I can buy my Jack Daniel's® Honey Smokehouse™ barbecue sauce and my ammo 24/7, which is awesome.

Besides getting used to my new environment, I’ve been observing the testing facility in order to get a better understanding of how the Egemin Guided Vehicles (E’gv’s) work. When the construction of a vehicle is finished, all components need to be tested. The next step is the reliability testing, in which the vehicles are made to perform in all possible scenarios in a setup resembling the client’s plant as close as possible. It’s impressive to see almost ten vehicles constantly driving around, picking loads from conveyors and all kind of racks and exchanging their batteries automatically. The facility looks like a real warehouse. The goal of this exhaustive testing is to detect and rectify all possible issues before the vehicles are shipped to the client.

I’m curious what my time here in Holland Michigan is going to bring. The kindness of the people I met both inside as outside the company, is a great help to me. I’ve been lucky to meet a group of college students with whom I get along very well. Since the extreme cold the first couple of days, temperatures have risen again to more moderate values. Although this area is apparently more enjoyable in summer time, I have a list of things to do which I’m very excited about. I’ll tell you about it next time!