Zone’s de­vel­op­ment plans put into ac­tion by the busi­nesses that call it home, Tang Zhihao re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Man­u­fac­tur­ers in the Weifang Hi-tech In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Zone are push­ing for­ward its in­dus­trial up­grade and trans­for­ma­tion plan in re­sponse to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to re­place old growth driv­ers with new ones.

We­ichai’s ap­proach

We­ichai Group, one of the largest ve­hi­cle parts and en­gine de­vel­op­ers in China, has been com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing in­no­va­tion, sup­port­ing in­dus­trial in­te­gra­tion and gath­er­ing global re­sources to build up its core com­pet­i­tive­ness.

The com­pany in­vested heav­ily in de­vel­op­ing en­gine re­li­a­bil­ity and core tech­nolo­gies to serve clients’ evolv­ing de­mands over the past few years.

Fig­ures pro­vided by We­ichai show that more than 5 per­cent of its an­nual sales rev­enue has been in­vested in re­search and de­vel­op­ment. To­tal in­vest­ment in core tech­nolo­gies and re­li­a­bil­ity en­hance­ment has reached 15 bil­lion yuan ($2.21 bil­lion) over the past 10 years.

The num­ber of en­gi­neers in the com­pany’s R&D depart­ment has in­creased to more than 3,000, from just 60 peo­ple.

We­ichai Group, founded in 1946, has reg­is­tered 2,633 patents, in­clud­ing 469 in­ven­tion patents, over the past seven decades.

The com­pany’s en­gine sales vol­ume reached 300,000 units in the first half of 2017, an in­crease of 50 per­cent yearon-year.

“We­ichai has re­ported rapid growth over the past decade. Our an­nual sales rev­enue ex­ceeds 100 bil­lion yuan. We diver­si­fied our prod­uct port­fo­lio and made break­throughs in our in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion progress,” said Tan Xuguang, chair­man of We­ichai. “We­ichai’s ev­ery suc­cess was sup­ported by tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.”

In the era of smart man­u­fac­tur­ing, We­ichai also vowed to ac­cel­er­ate its in­fra­struc­ture and man­age­ment sys­tem up­grade to main­tain long-term growth. It has joined the first group of smart man­u­fac­tur­ing de­mon­stra­tion busi­nesses in China.

In­te­grat­ing global re­sources

Apart from strength­en­ing com­mit­ment in in­de­pen­dent R&D, We­ichai is keen to cre­ate part­ner­ships with the world’s top tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tion providers to keep it one step ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.

In 2009, We­ichai Power, one of the sub­sidiaries of We­ichai Group, ac­quired French marine en­gine de­vel­oper and pro­ducer Mo­teurs Bau­douin.

Mo­teurs Bau­douin suc­cess­fully dis­trib­uted its en­gine sys­tems in the North Amer­i­can mar­ket with sup­port from We­ichai.

In 2012, We­ichai Power pur­chased a 25 per­cent stake in Ger­many’s fork­lift maker Kion for 467 mil­lion eu­ros ($534 mil­lion) and a 70 per­cent con­trol­ling stake in Kion’s sub­sidiary Linde Hy­draulics for 271 mil­lion eu­ros.

The deal al­lows We­ichai to be a leader in the hy­draulics in­dus­try and strongly sup­port China’s ma­chin­ery in­dus­try’s up­grade and trans­for­ma­tion.

In the same year, We­ichai pur­chased a ma­jor­ity stake in Ital­ian yacht-maker Fer­retti to tap into lux­ury yacht busi­nesses.

All We­ichai’s over­seas pro­jec ts re­ported pos­i­tive net profit in 2016. The over­all net profit was four times that of 2015.

This pos­i­tive in­vest­ment re­turn strongly sup­ports We­ichai’s con­fi­dence in global ex­pan­sion and ac­qui­si­tion.

We­ichai Amer­ica, a wholly owned sub­sidiary of We­ichai Power, de­cided to in­vest $60 mil­lion in lead­ing al­ter­na­tive-fuel power sys­tem de­vel­oper Power So­lu­tions In­ter­na­tional in March this year. We­ichai be­came PSI’s largest share­holder. The deal marked We­ichai’s de­but in the North Amer­i­can power mar­ket.

Fo­ton’s ef­forts

Strate­gies to re­place man­power with machines have been en­forced by the Fo­ton Shan­dong Mul­ti­func­tion Plant in the high-tech zone to sup­port its long-term growth.

A man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­e­cu­tion sys­tem was in­tro­duced to sup­port Fo­ton’s smart pro­duc­tion in Septem­ber 2016.

Yin Baoyin, who once worked in the or­der-sort­ing depart­ment of Fo­ton’s Weifang plant, said that the new sys­tem can sort or­ders much more ac­cu­rately and ef­fec­tively than hu­man be­ings.

“The sys­tem will pre­pare all or­der­re­lated data and sort or­ders au­to­mat­i­cally,” said Yin. “The or­der sort­ing time has been re­duced from 2 hours to only 40 min­utes.”

Smart tech­nolo­gies have been used in pro­cesses such as paint­ing, weld­ing and glu­ing at Fo­ton’s plant over the past two years.

The fig­ures pro­vided by the com­pany show that the first-time pass rate of prod­ucts from assem­bly lines in­creased by more than 60 per­cent com­pared with pre­vi­ous years.

Fo­ton said that tech­nolo­gies have helped the com­pany to re­duce pro­duc­tion costs by 41.83 mil­lion yuan in 2015 and 2016. The num­ber of em­ploy­ees on Fo­ton’s pro­duc­tion lines dropped from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,281 in 2016.

The em­ploy­ees who left their po­si­tions were re-trained and ac­quired new skills to sup­port the com­pany’s growth in other job po­si­tions, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. For in­stance, Yin is now re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing pro­duc­tion sta­tuses on the site.

We diver­si­fied our prod­uct port­fo­lio and made break­throughs in our in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion progress.” Tan Xuguang, chair­man of We­ichai Group

Con­tact the writer at tangzhi­hao@ chi­

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