Handing over the Torch

Hi, I am Kayla and I will be your guide for the North American part of the tour.
I am 22 years old from Rhode Island and a recent graduate of Iona College where I received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a degree in Fine Arts.

Handing over the Torch

I can most always be found holding a camera and a notebook. It is no surprise when I was asked to be a part of the iglide World Tour I said yes before the question was even finished. I am an avid traveler and travel whenever I get the opportunity. Some recent places I have been include Paris, Mexico, Switzerland, Maine U.S., Barcelona, Brussels, London and now Alaska. I tend to bring back many souvenirs from my travels and find myself trying to squeeze them into my room. Collecting souvenirs has become a hobby and I am often called a “hoarder” by my close friends.

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Through this trip, I plan on making our tour come to life for people who are following along. Look for me on the road!

Yours,

Kayla

Into the wild

Abandoned in the woods with nothing but forest as far as the eyes can see – iglide on tour has landed in Alaska, the largest state in the US, with the lowest population.

Into the wild

Currently, Alaska’s population stands at about 710,000 with an area of 587,878 square miles  – bigger than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest US states (California, Texas, and Montana) combined. The first stop on the North American tour is Anchorage, Alaska. Approximately half of the entire state’s population lives here. We were able to take in some of the sights in Anchorage, like Ship Creek, a popular salmon fishing spot. The salmon that you see coming out of the water here could easily feed ten people at a time.

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Another point of interest is Flat Top Mountain, an incredibly beautiful hiking spot.

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The city of Anchorage is filled with amenities that you see in the rest of the United States, like Starbucks and Barnes and Noble, making it a great place to stock up on necessities if you are planning on trekking out away from the city for any extended period of time. To prepare for our journey, we needed to stock up on gas, water, flashlights, and batteries. It was clear how stocking up in the city is very important as we headed north out of Anchorage towards Tok, roughly a 10 hour drive. The journey took us through vast forests and across mountains without any cell phone reception.

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You only need to drive about 10 miles out of Anchorage to wind up in the middle of nothing but pure nature.

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Many of the roads here are in very rough condition. While this isn’t convenient for us, it is no problem at all for the plastic bearings in the car, after all, they are designed to face harder shocks and vibrations than they would ever encounter along an Alaskan road!

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While there is no real civilization outside of Anchorage, you can still spot houses scattered off the highway where people have chosen to live deep within the wilderness. Tok is a small ghost town off Alaska highway 1 with no other population for miles. We arrived very late, about 1:30 AM, to learn that our motel rooms had been sold. Luckily, there was another motel nearby that happened to have two spare rooms.

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On day two, we headed South East out of Tok towards the Canadian border, into the treacherous Yukon.

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The car got its first American attention at a local gas station as people started taking photos of the car and asking about our journey.Currently, we are moving forward, with about 3,000 miles before we reach our first destination, Vancouver, Canada. Along the way, we plan to stop in Whitehorse and Tatogga Lake, both in British Columbia, Canada.

Stay tuned for more,

Sascha

Photo Announcement

We have just passed over the Canadian border. For the first time, I’m together with the car in a Photo of the Day. I decided to do this today as I make an announcement.

The US and Canada will be my final journey with the iglide car. At the end of August, I will leave for Europe to pursue my studies in Paris. It has been an amazing adventure so far, but now it is time to go back to real life. Soon, I will introduce you to my successor. They have started traveling with me and the car already, beginning in Anchorage. We still have more than two weeks together to see more of the United States!

I will keep you up to date,

Sascha

Photo Announcement

Brazilian Finale

We have officially ended the tour in Brazil, coming to a close with a press conference. Many journalists showed up to see the car that they had heard about, traveling their country over the past weeks, over a route of about 3,730 miles.

Brazilian Finale

igus Brazil’s country manager, Marcello Pimenta, kicked off the conference with a welcome to the journalists, and an overview of igus history, then masses the microphone over to Marcio Marques, the Brazilian bearing product manager. Marcio presented the journalists with some information about our self-lubricating plastic bearings, and their use in the automotive industry.

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After his presentation, Marcio had the exciting job of introducing the visiting journalists to the star of the show- the iglide car!

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I also took the stage for a few minutes to explain the retrofit process of the car, and the tour so far.

We also used the press conference to turn attention to our charity donation for this leg of the tour, receiving one Euro for each KM driven. For our Brazilian charity, we are working with a children’s hospital organization started by two parents as their child was fighting cancer. After having to travel throughout the entire country to receive various treatments, the parents founded the hospital to centralize all cancer treatments in one place, making expensive travel unnecessary.

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The conference ended with a lively discussion among the journalists and igus representatives, and a chance to look through our famous little car.

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The car left the conference directly for the airport, where the car took off on its way to the Great White North – Alaska!!

We will spend more than two full months from there traveling coast to coast across the United States and Canada.

I will update you from America!!

-Sascha

 

Foz do Iguaçu

From Rio Grande do Sul we took off towards one of the most beautiful places on Earth. About 560 miles separated us from the stunning Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls. Those 560 miles took us just under 17 hours! We left the hotel bright and early at 7AM, and didn’t reach the hotel until midnight!

Foz do Iguaçu

We got off-track a few times, heading in the wrong direction, but also had to face incredibly bad weather, dirt roads, and heavy traffic. At one point, we were stuck for more than an hour without moving an Inch.

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While this was exhausting for us,  it was no sweat for the bearings in the car. They are resistant against dirt and water, and have done us well over the past 17,400 miles! The 560 miles we drove today is no problem at all.

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The road to the waterfalls was very curvy, leading mainly through mountains and forest. While driving on roads like these, some of which were unpaved, it is important to have a good steering system, one that is reliable, and easy to maneuver. Self-lubricating igus bearings are used to improve the performance of thousands of vehicles manufactured each year all over the world. They ensure a smooth turning motion of the car, as well as stand up to continuous impact loads and changing temperatures.

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As soon as we caught our first glimpse of the Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls, we forgot all about the horrendous drive it took to get here. They were absolutely breathtaking – demonstrating just how powerful nature can be, as well as beautiful. It is incredible how much water flows over these falls, about three times as much as Niagra Falls!

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It is impossible to get one shot of the entire falls – they are incredibly massive – about 1.7 miles long, with 275 falls.

These waterfalls have drawing people to the area for centuries. According to legend, A God created these falls when he saw the woman he was about to marry fleeing with her lover in a canoe. The God, in a rage, sliced the Iguaçu river, creating the falls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. Less dramatically, the falls also stand as a natural boundary line between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

There are many pedestrian areas that allow you to get surprisingly close to the waterfalls. The National Park that surrounds the falls is also home to a wide variety of animals, including raccoons which were everywhere during our visit!

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We were not able to drive the car into the park, but were invited to jump on any of the public buses running through, many of which are using iglide bearings in their sliding door mechanism!

Nearby this natural wonder, is a wonder of engineering – the Itaipu Dam, located on common ground between Brazil and Paraguay. The dam is the largest hydroelectric facility in terms of energy generation. In fact, the dam produces about 70% of the power consumed by the entire nation of Paraguay!

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The structure is incredibly massive – 643 feet tall and over 25,000 feet long. In 1994, it was names one of the seven modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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We are now heading back to São Paulo to end the Brazilian tour. The car will then be shipped off to the United States, where it will begin its travels in Anchorage, Alaska!

Until then,

Sascha

Rio Grande do Sul

We have left the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, and have entered the country’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, which borders with Argentina in the West, and Uruguay in the South. Rio do Sul is famous for it’s endless sand beaches, only broken up by the estuaries of two large lakes. At the heart of of of the lakefront is the capital city, Porto Alegre.

Rio Grande do Sul

The city was one of several to host the recent World Cup; 5 matches were hosted right here in this stadium:

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According to a study by the U.N., Porto Alegre is the Latin American city with the highest standards of living, which reflects into the city itself. The transportation system is smoothly functioning, including exclusive bus-only lanes on main roads. One of the manufacturers supplying the many busses to the city of Port Alegre is the Brazilian company, MarcoPolo, where we stopped in for a visit.

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MarcoPolo focuses on bus bodies, supplying about half of Brazil’s bus companies. They have been a customer of igus for approximately a year and a half, and are using iglide plastic bearings in the bus door systems. The bearings have worked so well for the busses that the company’s lead engineer is planning to install iglide in other applications. He said he likes the high quality and long lifetime of the iglide bearings. Hear a bit more of his thoughts in this brief interview:

https://youtu.be/0c2c1ZOTGsA

Door hinges are a very popular application for iglide bearings. They are not only maintenance free, but also have a very high compressive strength, are resistant to dirt and dust, and are also very inexpensive.

Rio Grande do Sul

Part of our tour throughout Brazil is visiting local universities, where we can talk with engineering students about our products, and offer them advice on their student applications. igus has a big involvement with students, offering support though the YES Program. YES provides free products and information for students and teachers working on education-centered projects. Learn more about the progam on the YES page, www.igus.com/yes.

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Porto Alegre is about as far South as we will head on the Brazilian tour. We now only have a short stop in Argentina, then we are heading towards the stunning Foz do Iguacu waterfalls! We’ll leave Porto Alegre soon for our final big Brazilian adventure.

I’ll let you know what happens,

Sascha

Finding Germany in Brazil

On our way South to Brazil’s border with Argentina, we stopped into a city about 80 miles South of Curitiba, called Joinville. This city has one of the largest German populations in the country.

Finding Germany in Brazil

Brazilians of German decent are scatted throughout the country, but the overwhelming majority lives South of São Paulo. If you group all the German dialects spoken here, they would make up the second most spoken language, after Portuguese.

The first German settlers arrived in Brazil in the mid 1800’s, as a result of the German Revolution of 1848. Many of them arrived in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, where they founded the cities of Joinville, Pomerode, and Blumenau. Even today, they are keeping their German heritage alive. In Pomerode, German is the first language taught in schools, and German traditions, such as the annual “Pommernfest” have been kept alive and well. The car even got it’s photo taken with Blumenau’s Oktoberfest Princesses!!

Some of the houses are unmistakably German, and date back as far as 1860.

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Besides getting our fill of Germany away from Germany, we stopped and visited customers along our travels South, this time to an agricultural equipment manufacturer. The company takes advantage of igus components in the cabins of their self-propelled sprayer systems.

Agriculture is a big part of Brazil’s economy – they are one of the largest producers of agricultural products in the world. Every year, millions of tons of sugar, coffee, grains, and more are harvested. For this, a wide variety of high performance machines are needed, and igus can stand up to the challenge! They are resistant against high shock and edge loads, rough, dirty environments, and can handle any temperature under the Brazilian sun.

Finding Germany in Brazil

In addition to cabins, igus products can be used in a wide variety of applications in agricultural equipment. Click here to see more examples!

We are currently on our way to Florianopolis, on a route leading us around to the coast.  I’ll continue to keep you up to date on our travels!

-Sascha

 

Santos

While São Paulo is the economic center of Brazil, there is a major logistical problem – There is no direct access to the sea. Because of this, all goods manufactured in São Paulo and the surrounding areas is transported to Santos, the nearest port city.

Santos

Although São Paulo has 40 times the inhabitants of Santos, with respective populations of 20 million and 500,000, Santos is essential for the big city to thrive. Ships are docking every possible minute, making Santos the biggest port in South America. Surrounding the port are dozens of logistics companies, handling large portions of the world’s coffee exports, as well as steel, oil, car, fruit, and cotton. When the massive shipping containers arrive by truck, massive Reach-Stackers get ready to unload them.

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After unloaded by the Reach-Stacker, huge cranes take over, moving the massive containers around as needed. Cranes like these require many different sources of energy, including power, hydraulics, and more. To protect and guide these required cables, many use igus’ line of Energy Chain cable carriers. Very large versions of these Energy Chains are used as an alternative to festoon or bus-bar systems, which could lead to cable damage.

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Santos not only has the most important port in South America, but is also a major tourist destination. As our bearings have no problems with sand or salt water, we decided to take them to the beach!

Near the shore is a hill, which has become a launch-site of sorts for paragliders. Sometimes, the air above is so filled with parachutes it is amazing they don’t collide!

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From the top of the hill, we stopped for a moment to take in the great views of the entire city.

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Just an hour drive from Santos is the small city of Guaruja. Here, you can experience white sand beaches, bars, palm trees, and sunbathers, much like you’d see in a Caribbean resort, not just outside Brazil’s biggest city.  Right now, being winter, it is a lovely calm place, but I can imagine the summer, crowded with beach-goers.

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We are still heading South, traveling alongside the countless Argentineans heading home after the World Cup finals. Even after Germany won, the streets were alive with happiness and excitement from everyone!

https://youtu.be/-rPZMymayyM

I’ll keep you up to date as we head further South!

-Sascha

Traveling through São Paulo

We left sunny Rio, and went back to spend a few more days in São Paulo. We are now beginning our travels South toward the border with Argentina. Between Rio and São Paulo, we stopped overnight in a village called Penedo. Just by chance, the village turned out to be a Finnish Colony, with most buildings looking more Scandinavian than Brazilian.

It turns out that there were enough Germans living there that I was able to get a typical German dinner and beer at a neighborhood restaurant, Casa do Fritz!

After our German meal, we were able to meet up with the iglide car’s Brazilian driving companion – this time, a huge van carrying a mobile exhibition booth! We tested it out at our first customer visit, EATON – and within 5 minutes we had build a beautiful showcase for the wide range of igus parts that we offer.

EATON, which has their South American headquarters located in São Paulo, is a global manufacturer of transmission systems, where they utilize iglide plastic bearings. During our visit, we had the chance to spack with the company’s leading engineer, who has used igus products for nearly a decade. He was particularly pleased with iglide’s high wear-resistance and cost to performance ratio. Check out this interview with him to hear a bit more:

https://youtu.be/PSKJjlM076M

By driving our iglide car around the world, we are not doing anything new, just proving that our plastic bearings are already being driven around the world in all kinds of automotive applications.

Being the economic center of Brazil, many of our customers are in our around São Paulo. Between visits, we took a little time to explore the famous city, starting on Paulista Avenue, where a large number of financial and cultural institutions of Brazil are located. Here, you can see people from all around the world, all working and living together. This is one the the world’s most diverse cities, with large Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, and Lebanese populations – larger than anywhere else in the world, outside the countries themselves. Nearby Paulista Avenue is one of the world’s largest Neo-Gothic style cathedrals.

Traveling through São Paulo

Completed in 1616, the cathedral is the city’s biggest landmark; in fact, every distance that is calculated from São Paulo to another location uses the cathedral as the starting point or end destination.

To get a bird’s eye view of the city, you can climb any one of the countless buildings. The Italy Building offers an observation deck as a free tourist stop.

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If you are looking for a break from the bustling city, however, you can pull into any of the parks and escape into a lush green oasis in a sea of buildings and concrete.

I’ll be sure to let you know what we come across as we continue our travels South!

-Sascha

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