LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Tom Harvey was unsure what to expect. The learning and development manager at the Foxconn Lordstown operation was selected among 42 applicants from the U.S. region of the global corporation to represent the U.S. as a social media ambassador for Hon Hai Tech Day, held in Taipei, Taiwan, on Oct. 18.
It wasn’t long before he grasped the importance of the event and how it could translate into business operations back home.
“What stands out to me is just the scope of this,” Harvey says. “It’s huge because of the amount of things that we do and the number of areas we work in. The reach that Foxconn has worldwide was really the impressive thing to me.”
This year marks the fourth annual Tech Day hosted by Hon Hai Technology Group, commonly known as Foxconn. The event is intended to present a sweeping look at some of the major industries, products and innovations the global company has in development.
Harvey’s role was to chronicle his journey from the United States to Taipei and report via social media on the tech exposition. While in Taipei, Harvey had access to those engaged in product development and various operations across the company. Moreover, he and five other ambassadors from global regions of Foxconn met over lunch with Foxconn Chairman Young Liu the day following the event.
“He asked a lot about what we did and our areas and culture,” Harvey says. Foxconn, as a global tech company, operates in more than 20 countries and must embrace a diversity of customs and cultures.
Liu emphasized how important diversity is to the company. “The best way to be effective and successful in those areas is to allow that culture to drive what we do,” he said. “It was a great conversation.”
Harvey was able to speak with managers in several segments of Foxconn’s global business. “We were able to interview people in various areas,” including the electric-vehicle, server, health care and satellite groups, he says. “We were the only ones allowed to interview and video ahead of Hon Hai Tech Day itself. It was great having that level of access.”
For example, Harvey spent some time speaking with the server group and its development of liquid-cooled servers. He also – not surprisingly – devoted much time to the electric-vehicle segment.
This included conversations with those instrumental in developing the new Model T EV bus, on which he was able to ride. “I’ve ridden a lot of public transit over the years and a lot of different places – and it has to be the best-built bus I’ve been on,” he says.
Harvey also was invited to look at the Foxconn Model B, a small crossover passenger vehicle the company has in production, and the Model C, a new SUV EV. There is also a new EV cargo van, the Model N, which Harvey sees as a strong seller in that space.
“All of the vehicles stood out to me,” he says. “Those were my focus and really good to see.”
Throughout the trip and event, Harvey uploaded YouTube videos and submitted posts via LinkedIn.
This year’s Hon Hai Tech Day featured a dazzling light display, accomplished classical musicians, and the latest products of the global technology firm.
Among the highlights was the announcement that Foxconn plans to build artificial intelligence “factories” in partnership with U.S.-based Nvidia. The plan is to leverage AI to develop new software platforms for electric vehicles. Foxconn CEO Liu and Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang jointly announced the venture on stage in Taipei.
“This is a factory that takes data and produces intelligence,” Huang said during the event. The technology would allow Foxconn to manufacture EVs with an “AI brain inside” that can learn and transmit data back to the AI factory, which then produces updated software based on the experience of the vehicle.
Liu said the technology helps Foxconn accelerate AI use in new markets such as EVs, smart cities and smart manufacturing. “Foxconn is trying to convert itself from a manufacturing service company to a platform solutions company,” he said.
The Foxconn plant in Lordstown is its first in the U.S. dedicated to electric vehicles. Currently, the plant produces a driverless option electric-powered tractor for California-based Monarch Tractor.
Harvey says the experience at Tech Day has helped him better understand the breadth of Foxconn’s capabilities, which he says enables him to share new ideas or innovations with colleagues at Lordstown.
“We build as a corporation a lot of the parts and materials that we need to build vehicles here,” he says. Those connections and relationships are invaluable in that they allow for a higher quality level of EV products, since events such as Tech Day engage some experts at Foxconn. “As long as we’re talking together –which is what we do through Hon Hai Tech Day – we could really bring a lot of super-smart people to bear on what we’re doing here.”
Pictured at top: Tom Harvey is the learning and development manager at the Foxconn Lordstown operation.