Yiwu city and night train to Shenzhen

We started the day with a visit of zones 1 and 5 of the wholeseller market in Yiwu city.

This wholeseller market is a freetrade zone, which offers space for sales offices for companies from all over the world. It is possible for a normal person to buy just some products, but there are also big chains like Globus which can buy a bunch of products, for example the whole decoration for its stores. The most expensive stores to rent are located in the jewellery sector, where a 9 squaremeter sales office requires more than 1 mio. yuan for redemption sum. In the whole zone are between 60’000 to 70’000 stores, which are located in more than 60 buildings and offer around 1’700’000 different goods, which make this market the biggest in the world.
This market makes Yiwu city to a very special town, which has more than 2/3 foreigner in its around 2 Mio. habitants. It is also said, that Yiwu city has the biggest rate of expensive cars in China.

After a delicious lunch-buffet in the 4-star Yindu hotel in Yiwu city, we took the coach for a visit of Julong suitcase manufacturer. The factory is located on a 10’000 squaremeter property. The company visit started in a kind of museum, where they presented some very old objects, like a ancient suitcase which was older than 400 years or an old refrigerateur. They also showed us a wide variety of products like armeesuitcases, roulettetables, suitcases for wine and whisky etc. Their clients are for example Walmart, Lidl, Aldi, Target, Coca Cola and more. When we saw the production side, a lot of the work was done by hand, with a lot of manpower.

In the end of the tour, we had the chance to buy some products with a discount, which was a chance for some students to buy new suitcases and bags.

Later on we had to catch the train at 16.40 and therefore the timetable was to short to visit the Mengna sock production. So we went to the trainstation in Yiwu to catch the nighttrain to Shenzhen. The fact that the trainstation was very crowded and hot and also that we booked hardsleepers, made some students worry, about the coming traintrip.

The trainwagons had been small and there where no doors which seperated the beds from the aisle of the train. But after some hours, the students made friends with the Chinese passengers, some of them played card together or just chatted about the different cultures. The atmosphere in the train was very friendly and relaxed and there was kind of a partymood. But the biggest moment came later in the evening: On 10.07. was Prof. Rüttimanns birthday! Because they turned off the light at around 10pm, we had to toast with Mr. Rüttimann two hours before his official birthday (at least in Chinese time). So all students toasted on our professors birthday and sung “happy birthday” with the help of some locals even in Chinese. So ended one of the busiest, but also one of the most intercultural days in the nighttrain with a birthday party, somewhere on the railroads between Yiwu City and Shenzhen.

Night Train, Lenovo and HEAD

After an adventurous journey from Yiwu City to Shenzhen by night train, which included the celebration of Professor Rüttimann’s birthday, we hopped on the bus at 9:30 a.m. The bus drove us to the Futian Free Trade Zone in Shenzhen where we visited the first company of the day: Lenovo. Lenovo is a Chinese multinational computer technology company. It produces innovative PCs and mobile Internet devices. Lenovo is the world’s largest PC vendor and fourth largest smartphone company. They employee 46.000 people and operate in more than 60 countries. Cindy Liu (DT Quality Manager) and Michelle Zeng (MFG Program Manager) warmly welcomed us at the LIPC Plant. After a short presentation about “Who Lenovo is” and “How they perform”, we were guided through the manufactory. We could see the assembly lines where Lenovo produces notebooks and desktop computers. Before leaving the production site, everyone had to pass a security check, which is a standard procedure to ensure that nobody steals anything.

Due to time constraints we stopped at McDonalds to have lunch. After a couple of days in China, which included some unrecognizable meals, it felt good to eat something familiar.

The second visit of the day was at HEAD Sports (HUI Zhou) Corporation. Roland Wörgelbauer (QM Racquetsport) welcomed us with a wide selection of soft drinks, snacks and fruits. He introduced the production site. Notable is the fact that most of the 550 employees live on the premises and sleep in dormitories. The employees have to work six days a week in two shifts. The result of these numerous work hours is that HEAD is able to produce more than 100 million tennis balls a year. Before visiting the manufactory where HEAD produces tennis balls, Mr. Wörgelbauer presented a short video showing the process of fabricating a tennis ball.

During the tour, everyone was able to make its own tennis ball. We had to attach two pieces of sleaze to a glued ball. In addition to the self-made tennis ball everyone received a box of HEAD Pro Tennis Balls. Equipped with gifts we headed for the border of Hong Kong by bus. Short before the border we disembarked and crossed the border by foot. After entering Hong Kong we took the metro to get to the Hotel Evergreen, which is our last accommodation of this field trip.

It was a very intense day with interesting visits of two companies producing well-known consumer goods and a lot of travelling.

Day 11 + 12: Weekend in Shanghai

On our free weekend in Shanghai we could explore the city by our own. Many students did some sightseeing, for instance a hop-on-hop-of bus tour, and several students did some shopping. On Saturday night, Prof. Dr. Rüttimann invited us for a drink in the Indigo rooftop bar. Besides good conversations we had a breathtaking view over the skyline of Shanghai.image

Day 10 – Geberit and Schindler

On our second day in Shanghai we visited 2 companies, namely Geberit and Schindler.

The first stop was at Geberit. The swiss company manufactures and sells its products mainly under the Geberit brand, although alternative subsidiaries’ brands are also used. It has operations in more than 41 countries. Geberit’s strategy rests on the following four strategic pillars: focus on sanitary technology, commitment to innovation, selective geographic expansion and continuous business process optimization. For a number of years now, Geberit has been pursuing the three-stage sales model, respectively the push-pull strategy. More specifically, Geberit products are distributed via the wholesale trade, with the company training over 100,000 plumbers and decision-makers each year in its 25 training centers around the world or at external training courses. To date, Geberit has received a range of awards for the company’s innovative strength, product design and its strong focus on sustainability.


At the beginning Mr. Jackie Tu gave us an interesting presentation in which he came up with much knowledge which we learned in our modules at the ZHAW. For example we could see how the 6-Sigma and SMED models have been successfully implemented. Also impressive was to listen how much knowledge Mr Tu had. It was a valuable experience. After that we was invited to take a tour through the production side of Geberit. At the end we also had the pleasure to see an illustration of how a sanitary system works at all.

Our second stop was at Schindler Group. Schindler Group is the largest supplier of escalators. The Schindler Group is a manufacturer of escalators and elevators worldwide, founded in Switzerland in 1874. Schindler produces, installs, maintains and modernizes elevators and escalators in many types of buildings including residential, commercial and high-rise buildings. The company is present in more than 140 countries and employs more than 48,000 persons worldwide. The production facilities are located in Brazil, China, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, India and the USA.

Unbenannt schindler

The first impression was a very modern company. We was welcomed by Mr. Goia, Product Line Manager, which introduced Schindler China and the escalator division. Schindler has. He is the production line manager and just started to work here in Shanghai 6 months ago. After that the Managing Director of the escalator division Mr. Egbert Weisshaar. He talked about the history of Schindler and at the end we was able to ask him questions. Next we spited in 2 groups the one group stayed in the meeting room and the other group had an interesting roundtrip on the largest production side, for escalators, of the world. It was very impressing to see the 7 assembly lines and to see how an escalator is produced step by step.

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Day 8 – Higashiyodo Incineration Plant, Hitachi Zosen & Flight to Shanghai

The day started very early in the morning at 1 a.m. as Switzerland played against Argentina in the FIFA World Cup 2014. After 118 minutes of duration and suffering we sadly went to bed. A few hours later, the same morning, we checked out from the Japanese Ryokan hotel and started the day with a long bus ride to the first company visit, the Higashiyodo Incineration Plant in Osaka.


We were very welcomed by Minoru Mizuno and were introduced to the company’s background and activities with a short film. The company, which is operated by the Osaka Municipality, opened its doors in 2010. The purpose of this governmentally operated plant is to move away from mass production and consumption to sustainable garbage handling. The main processes in recycling the waste are the following:

1. burning the waste

2. gas handling

3. power generation

4. ash splitting (in good and bad ash, reusable and waste)

The plants operating hours are 24/7 with capacity of 400 tons of waste per day. Subsequently we had the possibility to look more in-depth into the operational processes. Mr. Mizuno illuminated the functions and the usage of the boiler more clearly to us by exemplifying that the boiler is used in 460 plants. Moreover this boiler has about 1 to 2 replacements per year, which then requires a shutdown of the production line for one month to implement the replacement. Interestingly enough to notice here is the need to cool down the boiler for about 3 – 5 days before the replacement can take place.


Next Mr. Mizuno discussed the steam turbine generator, which generates electricity at 10’000 kwh maximally. This steam turbine’s operation enables the generation of 6 – 7 mio. CHF by selling the produced electricity.

After this the Central control room was explained to us. In the control room there are always about 4 -5 persons, who consequently work in shifts. Moreover there are all over cameras installed in the manufacturing places.

Lastly the platform was discussed, which has 6 gates which are served by trucks delivering the waste. Special here is, that the trash bags are transparent. This leads to an easier control of the separation of the garbage.


After a short bus we arrived at the Hitachi Zosen Corporation headquarters. At 12, a bento box was served. After lunch mister Mizuno introduced us to his company where he is the general manager of the plant sales unit. Hitachi Shipbuilding Corporation (Hitachi Zosen Corporation) is a major Japanese industrial and engineering corporation. It produces waste treatment plants, industrial plants, precision machinery, industrial machinery, steel mill process equipment, steel structures, construction machinery, tunneling machines, and power plants. Despite its name, Hitachi Shipbuilding no longer builds ships, having spun this business off in 2002. Hitachi Zosen operates throughout Asia, Central and South America, Europe and Other regions. The company is headquartered in Osaka, Japan. They generated sales in the amount of 333’433 million Yen in the end of the fiscal year 2014 which is approx. 3.2 billion USD. Hitachi Zosen is actually the provider of the machinery used in the Incineration Plant and therefore the two company visits were combined.


After the visit at Hitachi Zosens headquarters we headed directly to the airport to catch our plane to Shanghai. Unfortunately the plane was delayed for more than an hour which extended our stay in Japan a bit. This free time was used to eat our last sushi. China Eastern brought us to Shanghai where we reached our hotel with the Maglev train (which speeded up to 301 km/h) and the metro, which was more hidden than expected. All in all, we arrived well in China.

Day 6 – Sightseeing Day Kyoto

First stop on our sightseeing day was at the Ginkakuji Temple. A quiet and beautiful place for meditation. The Ginkakuji Temple, a Zen temple, was established in 1482 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eigth Murromachi Shugunate. Yoshimasa, following Kinkakuji Temple Kitayama than built by his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, built villa Higashiyama than to spend his retired life. Ginkakuji is the common name, and formally it was called Higashiyama Jishoji, taking after Yoshimasa’s posthumous title after his death. Higashiyama than is the place where Higashiyama culture formed mainly by Yoshimasa started, and is the start of modern life style of the Japanese. Even now, the combination of Higashiyama culture and Zen culture can be seen here.

The second stop was at the Kiyomizu-dera Budhist Temple. Three MBA students from the Doshisha University joined us and gave us additional background to the temple. Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”.

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In the afternoon we visited the Fushimi Inari shrine.  Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto goddess of rice.  Weather was not so good but at least it was not raining like the days before. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha) is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds. These torii gates are also featured in one of the scene in the movie Memoir of a Geisha. The donor’s name and date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.

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The foxes are considered her messengers. Foxes are sacred beings in Japanese mythology, capable of changing shape and vanishing in an instant.

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After the sightseeing with our three colleagues from the Doshisha University we went to visit their campus. There we get an introduction by the dean of the university Ph. D. Mari Kondo about Kyoto. Next a former student of the ZHAW Pavel Soukal, presented us their university. At the end Prof. Rüttimann gave a presentation about innovation. After an intensive task we had the pleasure to have dinner with a group of students of the Doshisha University.


Day 5 – From Tokyo to Hiroshima and back to Kyoto

A 5 hour long train ride brought us comfortably to Hiroshima where the sun was finally shining again. The first ever nuclear bombing that took place on August 6. 1945 in Hiroshima is being remember of by a museum and park that is located in the heart of the city where the main impact zone was. Continue reading

Day 4 – Tokyo Fish Market and sight seeing

A Day full of diverse impressions started off at 8 a.m. at the Tsukji Fish, Fruit and Vegetable Market. One of the first and lasting impressions was the way by which a police officer at the fish market got rid of our group not by telling us to leave but by simply handing over a piece of paper. ” Tourists shall keep out of the fish market before 9 a.m.” it said and that was it for the moment. Though one or two tuna sawings were still seen after nine, the “real” action was over when we entered. Still there was heaps of diverse captured species to be seen. Some tied up and still alive and some cut into fine pieces. The sight-seeing through the market was followed by some of the best and earliest tuna-sashimi so far. The Meiji-Shrine was our next station. We were able to witness a wedding ceremony which caused both. Depression and awe. The same could be said for the whole experience of the shrine which was built in remembrance of the emperor meiji. This second station of ours stood in great contrast to Takeshita street with its overloaded and unbelievably colorful stores and quite obviously displayed teenage culture. Just standing on the side of the street for a couple of minutes and watching the runway was a unique experience indeed. The rest of the day was spent to get the JP Railpass for the group members and later in individual manner.

Day 2 – Hosei University & Embassy of Switzerland Tokyo

At 8:30 a.m. we headed to Hosei University where Dr. Matthias Frey – Head, Science & Technology Office Tokyo, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan – welcomed us. After a brief introduction about the Hosei University given by Till Oehler we took the elevator to the 26. floor. From the “Sky Hall” we had an astounding outlook over the never-ending city Tokyo. We got introduced to Japanese students from the University by their professors Prof. Horaguchi and Prof. Taji. Subsequently, we got divided into groups. Each group consisted of three ZHAW students and one Hosei University student. Next, we left the Hosei campus and walked to the nearby Yasukuni shrine, a place where Japanese pray for everyone who died on behalf of the country, including soldiers and citizens. Continue reading

Welcome to Japan

Japan is the first stop of our field trip. Today all of the students checked in at the Sotetsu Fresa Inn Hotel in Tokyo. At seven o’clock in the evening we met Prof. Dr. Rüttimann and Prof. Angst in our hotel lobby. The trip started with a welcome drink and some snacks in a traditional japanese restaurant. We are looking forward to an exciting trip with unforgettable experiences! imageimage