After more then two weeks of traveling through China mainland, our last day in this large country has arrived. At 7am everbody had to be checked out. Unfortunately not all of us got their laundry back which caused a dalay of 20min. Enough time to get a cup of coffee from Mc Dondalds to strengthen us for another busy day. The visits of the companies ‘Build Your Dreams’ and Lenovo was sheduled for this day.
Arround 10am we arrived in front of the gate of BYD in Shenzhen. First of all, the company was introduced in a short speech where they clarified that BYD is more then just a car manufacturer. BYD embraces three businesses: IT, automobile and new energy. Everybody wanted to see the production plant but due to their strict rules we could not visit it. The disappointment was only short-lived because BYD showed up with a big surprise. We were given the unique opportunity to drive with the electric car e6. A strange feeling since there was absolutely no sound of engine. This proved us that China is also preparing their future, zero emission & zero noise.
After a short stopover at Mc Donalds, specialists from Lenovo showed us the production of the well-known ThinkPad notebook. Hundreds of Chinese workers stood at the assembly line, doing not more then one or two actions, an engraving impression. Thanks to this, the picture of a simple and standardized notbook became its face. Now we know all the procedures behind it.
Another intersting day, packed with a lot of impressions reached its end. We left China mainland behind us as we crossed the border to Hong Kong.
After having a few hours of sleep, our trip continued in the early morning. We met a 7.00am and were directly driven to the airport where we took a plane and flew to Guilin. The first stop there was Subachi, a company that manufactures straps for luxury Swiss watches. The insights into this industry we got there were very interesting since nobody couldn’t imagine how the procedure of this strap necking is. In order to produce a leader strap there are around 30 steps to go through. A normal employee in this company is working around 10 hours a day, is not allowed to talk and earns on average 200 Swiss Francs a month.
After this interesting tour we checked in at our hotel in Guilin and got introduced to local students. It was a clash of two different worlds while the Chinese students were very nervous and excited, we were very aware to avoid any cultural mistakes. Together we went to visit a tea plantage where we got introduced to the deepest secrets of tea and even walked through the tea fields. Already having a lot impressions in mind, the day got even better. In our individual groups, joined by designated Chinese students, we went for dinner. So again – round table. Actually it was very delicious and of course very amusing. Although it was already late and the students were supposed to be back at their dormitory, we decided to go for karaoke. The group of two different cultures formed to a very successful coverband and had fun together until the early morning.
The day 9 was characterized by chinese midsize companies in the area of Hangzhou.
After a little delay in the morning we started the day by bus in direction to Haining City. The first company we visited was Haining City Lili Leather Garments Co. Ltd which manufactures and exports leatherwear. We were impressed to see the whole process of producing leather jackets of the company. We had the opportunity to see the different divisions starting with the designing of the clothes, followed by cutting, sewing, sticking and packaging. Afterwards we were able to see the final product produced for customers like H&M, Esprit, Geox, Pierre Cardin, Only and s’Oliver.
The second company we visited was Nicelink Home Furnishings Co. Ltd which produces and exports sofa covers. This company has also a very deep value chain, producing in-house excep the used leather. It was impressive to see the size of the production hall and the many engaged employees. Very hungry we ate close by the company in a Chinese restaurant. It was delicious.
Finally we were guided through a tannery where we were able to see the different steps of producing usable leather for jackets. The company puts emphasis on the cleaning of the chemical production liquid. They collect and transfer it to a central cleaning water station where most of the waste is being removed.
Ready for another long and interesting day around Shanghai we met early in the morning in the lobby and boarded the bus for heading to the first company visit of the day. After driving out of Shanghai for quite a while we arrived at the VW factory where we had the chance to have a look at one of the company’s high-quality production plants producing the brands VW and Skoda for the Chinese market. We had a quick instruction by a video-tap followed by a ride through the production and they showed us two of the three main production areas. It was fascinating to see all the robots working on the cars and especially the pure form of just-in-time production was impressive. Unfortunately it was kind of a standardised visit and it was not possible to ask detailed questions about VW in China.
After a delicious breakfast at our Hotel “Shangri La”, we went to see Wu Qubo from the Shenzhen Development and Reform Commission who told us a lot about the Industrial Zone in Shenzhen. He was the first host to use a professional translator which made the conversation seem more formal. He said that Shenzhen is continuing its efforts to grow economically, yet they will try to do so without exploiting the environment further. He said that they are very much aware of the pollution problems as well as water shortage.
After this meeting with a political representative, we visited the Swiss company Schurter which is producing electrical devices in the local factory. Managing Director Martin Bannwart was the one giving us a tour of his factory. We were surprised at the relatively small size of the factory and the low number of employees. This shows that even small businesses try to profit from the Chinese low-cost labour. The factory was rather basic. Continue reading →
Day three has started early, with a good breakfast, after a wild night for some. The meeting was scheduled at 9:15, but not everyone has shown up on time. We took-off a bit later than expected with the consequences of missing some people on the bus. The visit of this day was a government owned company named BAOSTEEL, which produces and manufactures steel. Our tour of the company started with a broad and interesting speech by Ming Weh, who in broadly introduced BAOSTEEL’s daily activities. Afterwards we were invited to eat lunch at BAOSTEEL’s canteen. We all enjoyed a very delicious meal and were prepared to move on and get a tour at the company’s heavy metal production facility which was very different and impressive to all of us. The entire area of BAOSTEEL accounts for 25 km². For safety reasons we had to wear helmets. Continue reading →
After a delicious breakfast in the morning, the group met at 8 o’clock in the hotel lobby. The first meeting was with Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). Kimmo Ahtokari and Jeannette Chu warmly welcomed us and presented the company profile. SGS which has its headquarter in Geneva provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services for ten business segments. It was established in 1878 and employs 59’000 people in 1000 offices and laboratories around the world. Continue reading →
Haining City is known as the leather manufacturing cluster of China and is located about 60 km from Hangzhou. First we visited Haining City Lili Leather Garments. At the beginning of the tour we were given the chance to have a glance at some of the company’s products, such as leather jackets, vests, hand bags and many more. After that the tour continued through the various stages of the clothing production. Overall we were surprised by the good working conditions and the good atmosphere amongst the factory workers. We were able to cheer them up even more by distributing candies which was highly appreciated. Continue reading →
After checking out our hotel rooms in Guangzhou, we were looking forward to our last company visit of our China field trip. A one hour coach ride took us to the suburbs of Guangzhou, where we reached the local branch of SGS. SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.
In a detailed presentation by a manager of SGS we learnt that the aim of SGS is to help customers all over the world operate in a more sustainable manner by improving quality and productivity, reducing risk, verifying compliance and increasing speed to market. The firm with its headquarters in Geneva employs over 55’000 people and operates a network of more than 1’000 offices and laboratories around the world.
After the presentation, we had a highly interesting tour through the laboratories of SGS. We were very impressed about the variety of products which are tested and evaluated by a wide range of methods. From simple static load tests of office chairs to crash tests with bike helmets to chemical analysis of liquids we explored the wide area of operation. During the tour, several questions regarding chemical analzysis were rised by the students and were competently answered by Dr. Ivan Chan, direcor of corporate R&D
In the early afternoon, the coach drove us to the Guangzhou train station where we boarded the train. At the boarder to Hong Kong our temperature had been taken again. Some of us had been checked twice, for whatever reason… Finally, everyone reached Hong Kong the metropolis located at the Chinese south coast. The rest of the day, we could explore the fascinating city on our own.
After checking out at the yet best Hotel in Hanghzou, Mr. Bi, a former business partner of Mr Ruettimann, took us to the company `Flockmaster`. This tannery processes cow and sheep skins to industrial leather for mostly shoes and jackets. In huge halls thousands of leather pieces are cleaned, dyed and refined with chemicals. Finally they are being checked and cut to meet customer`s demands. Furthermore, we learned that it is hard to distinguish genuine from fake leather for laymen and professionals alike.
The next company we visited was `Haining City Lili Leather Garments Co., Ltd`. This company manufactures fashion leatherware, especially jackets. They count Tchibo, Esprit and H&M to their customers. Actually, we saw the new