Nepcon Shanghai - show diary - day one
by Philip Stoten
Apr 24, 2007
Western ingenuity meets Chinese manufacturing prowess
It is impossible to question the premise that China is the factory of the world, particularly in the electronic industry. You only have to look at the numbers to see that as well as serving a huge and growing, domestic market China also manufactures more electronics for export than anywhere else in the world.
One thing that day one of this year's Nepcon Shanghai underscored is that as Chinese manufacturing continues to grow and become more sophisticated it continues to utilise the creativity, experience and ingenuity of the west.
And why not? After all, Europe and North America have been making electronics manufacturing equipment for years - equipment that meets the needs of the high volume high speed manufacturing world that China finds itself dominant in.
So, as jobs in product assembly move east, the west remains strong in the design, development and production of the equipment used. If you were ever wondering why that is the case a short walk around the aisles would clarify some reasons. There are countless examples of creativity on show from European, American and other western companies throughout the show.
Take for example BPM's new Flashstream high speed programmer. Having identified that the programming of larger flash devices is a bottleneck in production of certain products, BPM have developed a solution that reduces the time to program 100 devices with a 1Gb file from 5.5 hours to a little over six minutes. A huge benefit and cost saving in production.
Another example is RMD's lead free test device, which is the only hand held solution for testing product for content of materials restricted by the RoHS initiative.
These are just two of the many examples of such ingenuity on display in the halls of Nepcon in China this week.
It seems also that one cannot call companies European, or American or even Asian anymore. Many of the companies exhibiting here are truly global players with a clear commitment to all regions and with real businesses now fully developed and established in China.
Yesterday I visited BTU's local facility and was stunned by how fast, effectively and efficiently they had developed their business here in the Shanghai area. The business, which is wholly owned by BTU, has been developed as a result of a team with a real 'can do' approach. The staff, most of which were recruited while the factory was under construction have achieved amazing growth, meeting what would be considered unreasonable timelines elsewhere. The property developers have shown a real desire to make BTU a success, by building and extending the facility at a pace that allowed the company to develop without disruption. The site shipped its first complete machine just six months after construction began!
The factory is a huge credit to BTU and their commitment to China. With engineering as well as production here in China, BTU are able to produce equipment where it is needed with no compromise in quality or lead time.
Another example of this commitment to the region came today during a presentation which John Hartner, President of DEK, gave to members of the local and international press. DEK has built a substantial business in China with over 170 employees, which is more than any country outside the UK, where DEK are headquartered.
Commitment to China as well as confidence in it and its indigenous staff is abundantly clear throughout the show, with more and more companies opening R&D, support and engineering facilities here in China, as well as production.
So, I guess it is a clear message - to be successful here in China, you have to do more than just visit - you have to participate in the region, in the industry and in the economy. It is essential for any global player in electronics manufacturing to develop a real business here, with local staff, local expertise and a real understanding of the local market.