Day 9 – The day of superb surprises!

This morning Prof. Dr. Rüttimann surprised us with a visit to the cashmere production company – Artwell.

Artwell

Artwell is one of the biggest suppliers of cashmere products for companies like Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Globus and Grieder. After a warmly welcome by the CEO of Artwell, Mr. Alfred Lee, followed an introduction about the company which is located in the Zhejiang Province. Moreover, they gave us the great opportunity to see the whole production line. Now we understand the processes from dyeing, carding, spinning to the sweater workshop. Those processes showed us how they turned wool from the cashmere goats which are living in the Inner Mongolia to real cashmere pullovers, pillows, scarves and so on. We learned that for one pullover four goats are needed and that they are sheared in April and May. The animal feels no pain in this process. It was impressive to see that every step is supported by machinery. We had the chance to feel the material after every step. Depending on the process stage the wool was softer and thinner or thicker.

This company was a good example for a successful vertical integration of a production, which means, that they are flexible in their processes. Moreover, Artwell is able to control every step and therefore to provide a high quality product.

Group picture in front of the company Artwell

Visiting the production site

 

The second surprise after lunch was a tour through the Venice of the east – Wuzhen. Similar to the original Italian city, some houses of Wuzhen are only accessible by boats or gondolas. The town is 2km long and has 12’000 permanent residents and it is located next to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The town has not only lovely sceneris, but also a great history, which was important for China’s history too.

Wuzhen

 

There we visited the footbinding museum, which displays 825 pairs of footbinding shoes from various places of China as well as many pictures and footbinding tools with detailed explanations. People today cannot imagine that, hundreds of years ago, the Chinese women believed that the most beautiful thing for a woman were the smallest feet instead of a beautiful face or a well filled-out figure.Footbinding

 

At the evening everybody had time to enjoy the impressive city Shanghai.

 

Ackeret, Ehrensperger, Hasler, Zadro

Day 8 – Three Chinese SME’s

Our second day in Shanghai started already at 7.15AM as we had planned a tight schedule for the day. The focus on today’s program was laid on leather.

 

A 2.5-hour bus ride took us to Hangzhou. There we met Mr. Bi and Mr. Frank Chan who accompanied us throughout the day, which consisted of three visits of Chinese SME’s. The three companies are all part of a leather cluster within each company covers multiple steps along the value chain.

 

Lili Leather Goods

The first company we visited, Lili Leather Goods, is specialized in the production of leather garments, mainly jackets. After a short introduction by Mr. Wang of the company, which was founded in 1984, we were invited to take a look at the sample products in the showroom. Lili Leather Goods produces leather garments for about 20 different brands among which are household names such as H&M, s’Oliver, Esprit, Charles Vögele or Chevignon. About half of the products are exported either to Europe or the United States. The other half is distributed on the domestic market.

After that we took a tour  the production facilities where we were impressed by the good working conditions of the employees. Almost all the steps within the leather jacket production are still done by hand. An average leather jacket requires four hours of labor, meaning an average employee produces two jackets per day.

 

The morning program ended with a delicious chinese lunch at a hotel closeby.

 

NICELINK Home Furnishings

The second visit of the day led us to a company called NICELINK Home Furnishings. The company was founded in 1997 and produces a wide range of leather sofas and chairs. Their products are almost exported almost entirely to the United States, Europe or the Middle East. Ms. Jenny Cao, Mr. Raank Cao and the production leader Roger led us through the different production sites. Every task within the production process is attributed to specific workshops which again are closely interlinked. The processes range from the cutting of the leather, assembly of the wooden frame to the preparation of the foam cushion, etc. This simple setup allows the roughly 1’300 employees to produce the equivalent of 450 shipping containers full of furniture per month and it serves as a good example of a well-integrated value chain.

 

 

 

Zhejiang Fubang Leather Co Ltd.

To close the business visits of the day we were brought to a tannery to see where the leather for the aforementioned companies and products come from. Zhejiang Fubang Leather Co Ltd. is the tannery of the leather cluster above. We were shown around the facilities and had a look at the tanning wheels and also got to know the distinctive smell of a tannery.  Mr. Chan also led us to their research center, where a set of small tannery wheels are installed for testing and research purposes.

 

The three visits of the day gave us impressing insights into the different stages and processes involved in the production of leather garments. From an economic point of view it showed us an example of a successful process integration along the value chain. For most of us it was also the first time to ever see and especially smell a tannery, which might have affected the buying behavior of some when it comes to leather garments.

 

The bus finally brought us back to Shanghai where we had some time to explore this great city on our own.

 

Written by C. Chevalier, P. Kull, G. Walser, F. Röllin

 

 

 

Day 7 – Heading to Shanghai

 

Day seven was a transfer day from Lanzhou to Shanghai. We got up early to check out before 8 am when we boarded the bus to the airport. As a little detour we visited a scenic spot, from which we were able to see the Huang He (yellow river) in his name-giving yellow colour as well as the skyline of Lanzhou at dawn.

Huang He and Lanzhou at Dawn

Back on the parking field we officially said farewell to Mr. Stephen Zhu, our governmental tour-guide and his assistant. We honoured his good organisation that enabled us to gain more knowledge about the cultures of some Chinese minorities (the Tibetans and the Hui) as well as the opportunity to visit a steel plant and a factory that produces patches after the rules of traditional Tibetan medicine. To express our gratitude we handed over a book to Mr. Stephen Zhu about cultural differences between Asians and Europeans, which was signed by all students.

 

At the airport we checked in with China’s super-lowcost airline ‘Spring Air’. It is a “no-frills”-airline, meaning that all convenient extras are dropped in order to be cost-effective, as Edelweiss, Ryanair or Easyjet in Europe and Virgin America or Southwest in America. The airline has a 15kg-luggage policy, other hand-luggage rules as proposed by the IATA. Nevertheless the airline remitted the amount for the overweight luggage for the hole group which was a nice gesture of them.

Sping Airlines Logo

 

Finally arrived in Shanghai Pudong Airport, Professor Rüttimann and the org-team led the whole team to the Maglev with a well organised plan , as usually only known in the world’s best army. After every five minute walk the travel group waited in order that the team leaders could successfully report the presence of their team to the leader of the org-team. The Maglev train is the only one of his kind, as the train does not roll on the tracks but floats on them (so called magnetic levitation). The vessel is designed by two German engineering companies (Siemens and ThyssenKrupp) and built by Chinese. It reaches a speed of up to 430 km/h for commercial purposes and more than 500 km/h as potential high-speed. According to Professor Rüttimann this system is not used in other cities, due to the high energy consumption.

Maglev reaching top-speed

 

After a short ride with the subway we finally arrived at the Bund Riverside Hotel which is very central located and offered an incredible breakfast.

In the evening we walked with Professor Rüttimann around Lujiazui, the new financial hub east of Nanjing Street. We saw the impressing skyline of Shanghai from multiple spots. As the German Beergarden was busy, we went into an Italian restaurant to enjoy the view on the Huangpu River and the skyscrapers of Shanghai.

Chang Jiang and the Bund at night

Group 4 – Iris Hettich, Florian Maier, Benjamin Fischer, Lukas Bühler, Christian Röthlin

Day 6 – Back in Lanzhou

Day number seven on our trip in Lanzhou started with a bus ride to the university of Management of Lanzhou, where the group met international students from different postgraduate. After a very warm welcome, the faculty has been introduced to us briefly, until Dr. Prof. Rüttimann hold his lecture about innovation. In small groups we have worked together on different question according to the hold lecture. It was a great experience to learn more about their own perspectives. Then the students also showed us the campus and buildings belonging to the university.

Surprisingly the morning went by very fast and the group headed towards the restaurant. Directly after lunch we went towards the two company visits set up for today.

 

The first company is a tibetan pharmaceutical producer (Cheezheng Tibetan Medicine Co. Ltd.) that just produces products after traditional methods. Like it is usually in Tibet they welcomed us with a white scarf. The company staff showed us some of the company’s products and we got a short insight to the production and the package department.

The second company we have visited today is a steel and iron producer called JISCO. It is one of the biggest steel producing companies in China and has a ultra-modern infrastructure. The whole production complex is probably as large as the city of Winterthur! It is seldom to gain an insight directly to a steel producing company. We had the opportunity to look inside the production sections and in addition the representatives were open to any of our questions about the company and the production processes. We were impressed about the employees’ friendliness, the size of the company and we will never forget the massive radiated heat of the steel melting ovens and steel rollers inside the production sections.

 

 

After the visit of the company we went to the hotel and had individual dinner.

Day 5 – Getting in touch with the Tibetan culture part 2

Our second day in Xiahe started officially at 11:30 am, however some of us went up very early to do different kind of activities. A few of us met at 5 am to go back to the Labrang Tibetan Monastery to attend a praying ritual by sunrise, which was an unique experience for all of them. Others went for a challenging running session due to the high altitude (approx. 3000 meters above sea level).

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Day 4 – Getting in touch with the Tibetan culture

After a short night in Lanzhou we checked out in the early morning. Prepared with a small bag for one night, we got on our way to Xiahe. After a two hours long bus ride we stopped by at the Hezheng Ancient Animal Fossil Museum where we got an attractive tour with our professional tour guide Mr. Stephen Zhu. The fossils were all a couple million years old and some of them impressed us with their amount of daily food intake of one ton of grass.

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Day 3 – Lanzhou

The day started earlier than expected in Lanzhou. Our group went by bus to the Waterwheel Park, where Lanzhou’s history of waterwheels has been shown. In 1556, various wheels were invented by Mr. Duan. Steadily improvements allow to establish a system that raises water with skip buckets up to the canal and therby uses the flow of the yellow river for propelling the watherweel (The river is named after the sand which colours the river yellow).

 

Shortly after we went to the park, the group headed towords the second appointment this morning where our second company visit started and the institution of UNIDO-ISEC has been briefly introduced. Their goal is to support research and help to implement sustainable energy resources.

All together went after this interesting and inspiring morning for lunch to the best noodle place in town. It was a unique experiance to try different chinese dishes with and without noodles. Also the short presentation on how to make chinese noodles including the variety have been an enhancing experiance to all of us.

 

With a belly full of noodles and energy, we started to the second part of the day. Recent graduates students of school of Fine Art exposed their work and we were privileged to look at their creations.

Furthermore we had the opportunity to meet students of the Lanzhou Jiaotong University and to exchange experiences of our student’s lives. The discussion was time limited but we exchanged personal information to keep in touch and we took a group picture in front of the university.

 

 

From the university we went to our last visit for today, which was the Mogao Chateau. It’s a company that import graphes from the mongolians and produces wine mainly for the national market. Then a wine degustation took place inside an impressive building and we tested a few local wines, which were sometimes quite surprising. Tomorrow we are leaving Lanzhou for a night and we will do many activities.

Day 2 – After seeing the Mausoleum and Forbidden City in Beijing we arrived in Lanzhou

After an early check-out we took the subway to the Mao Tse-Tung Mausoleum. A short briefing respectively a presentation by Prof. Dr. Rüttimann and Florian Gitzelmann about the specific building itsself enlighted our minds. Leaving our luggage and especially cameras behind, we started queing in front of the Mausoleum. Luckily, there weren’t too many people standing in line yet, so most of us got in quickly. The security staff was very strict about the regulations and the dresscode, therefore a couple of students were not allowed to enter the Mausoleum. Nevertheless, the lucky ones who got in, were able to catch an eyefull of the former 1st Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China – named Mao Tse-Tung. After a quick walk we passed by the National People’s Congress and the National Centre for  Performing Arts to end up in front of the Heavenly Gate of the Forbidden City.

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Day 1 – Olympic Village / Swiss Bread / Great Wall of China

After having arrived in Beijing the evening before the official program of the study trip started on Wednesday, June 26 2013.

 

A quick bus ride brought us to the Olympic Village where we visited the famous Birds Nest designed by the Swiss Architects Herzog & De Meuron for the 2008 Olympic Games. After some bargaining with the ticket vendors we managed to negotiate a student fee for a tour inside the Birds Nest, which offered us an amazing insight into the Stadium. The Olympic Village is usually crowded on weekends but

the Birds Nest itself is nowadays rarely used for sports events.

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