After a 2h-bus-ride we arrived in Changzhou at Rieter Textiles (RTSC). We were welcomed by Mr Sigi Foehn, Head of Rieter Textiles China, who presented us a brief presentation about Rieter in China. According to Mr Foehn the core competences of Rieter China are its sourcing and procurement strategy, its logistics processes and its explicit quality management.
The main challenges are the know-how protection which can only be solved by innovation, the pushing to high end segment while loosing low and mid range (which is the largest segment with an amount of 2/3) and the adjusting and stripping down of their products which leads to problems for the sales department. As far as facts and figures are concerned it can be stated that 250 out of 600 employees can speak English. China – a low number of expatriates working in Changzhou. Mr Sonderegger, Head of Operations, showed us Rieter’s assembly and manufacturing area which was Rieter’s first mover with regards to a pull system (kanban, kaizen). For the vast majority of us, it was the first time seeing such an operations management in action.
In addition there was a tremendous increase from 2005 (CHF 28 Mio corporate output, turnover) to 2007 (CHF 56 Mio turnover). What is more, there are – compared to other western companies in After an interesting discussion part with the two Swiss representatives and the Chinese HR manager, Rieter invited us for lunch on the premises before we caught our bus to Suzhou Industrial Park where we experienced a profound insight into the massive development of the Suzhou area. At the headquarter of the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) Administrative Committe, we were met by Mrs Doris Xiao and Mr Tommy Xing. The introduced us into the history and development of the SIP, which was incredible impressive. They build a new park for more than a million people including golf cource, two business cities with several sky scrapers, lake, amusement park and cultural activities within two decades. Last but not least, we could make our own picture of the size of the park from the top of the builing. It’s just amazing!
Within the Suzhou Industrial Park we visited the biggest B2B chocolate factory in the world, Barry-Callebaut. Upon our arrival, Mr Gilles Leclere, Operations Manager China, already expected us and he guided us directly into the showroom where we were welcomed by Mr Nadim Itani. Mr Itani, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, China Gourmet, gave us a tasty and interesting introduction into the product line of the company. After the tasting of the different chocolates, we were split into four groups and we got our white dresses, which are required to wear in order to visit the actual production site. The tour was rich on tasty smells, interesting production steps and machines. It was extremly interesting to see how few people are actually needed to operate such a production facility and produce a huge amount of chocolate.
Shanghai’s rush hour phase we headed back to our well-known hotel by bus, which took us a while. The evening program could be arranged individually so some of us went out for a beer, a small dinner or to expand their shoe collection .