Jier Ma­chine Tool Group stamps its class on the in­dus­try world­wide

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHAO RUIXUE in Ji­nan zhaoruixue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In the world’s ma­chine tools in­dus­try, China’s State-owned Jier Ma­chine Tool Group Co, based in Ji­nan, cap­i­tal city of East China’s Shan­dong prov­ince, has been blaz­ing a trail in the seg­ment of au­to­mo­bile stamp­ing lines.

Af­ter tast­ing suc­cess in South Amer­ica, South­east Asia, In­dia and Rus­sia, Jier has been steadily ex­pand­ing its busi­ness in North Amer­ica.

“Our strength lies in the qual­ity of our prod­ucts. That’s where we out­per­form our com­peti­tors,” said Zhang Zhi­gang, Jier’s chair­man.

That’s not an empty cor­po­rate boast. The qual­ity of its prod­ucts, Jier’s pro­fes­sional ser­vices and the high level of ex­per­tise of its en­gi­neers have im­pressed Ford Mo­tor Co of the United States so much that it is no longer re­ly­ing on Ger­man sup­pli­ers.

Five years ago, Ford sent a team of more than 10 ex­perts to China for a de­tailed check on Jier’s prod­ucts. Jier’s high­end au­to­matic stamp­ing line was the first-ever such prod­uct made by a Chi­nese com­pany

he Ford team was im­pressed and de­cided to place the or­der. Ever since, Ford’s or­ders for Jier prod­ucts have been in­creas­ing.

Ear­lier this year, Ford sent only one ex­pert to Jier to com­plete the deal for its ninth stamp­ing line, an em­phatic vote of con­fi­dence in the lat­ter’s prow­ess.

“(The press line) works very quickly and ef­fec­tive. Ev­ery press line gets bet­ter. Right now, Jier is the best,” said Ron Russo of Ford, af­ter the press line was in­stalled at Ford’s Wood­haven Stamp­ing Plant in Detroit on June 27.

The pre­vi­ous eight press lines are in op­er­a­tion at four Ford plants. The lat­est one is ex­pected to be pressed into ser­vice in Jan­uary.

It is the first time in 20 years that Ford bought com­plete sets of press equip­ment from a coun­try other than Ger­many.

“Buy­ers will ex­press in­tent to buy only af­ter they are con­vinced that our tech­nolo­gies, qual­ity, de­liv­ery time and af­ter-sales ser­vice can thor­oughly meet their re­quire­ments,” said Hao Zhiqiang, gen­eral man­ager of Jier’s op­er­a­tions in North Amer­ica.

Paul Wollschlager of Ford’s stamp­ing en­gi­neer­ing team re­called how Jier de­liv­ered the sev­enth line de­spite ex­tra­or­di­nary chal­lenges aris­ing from Ford’s ex­pan­sion at the Rouge Com­plex. “The Jier team’s hard work in the in­stal­la­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of the line was phe­nom­e­nal.”

Es­tab­lished in 1937, Jier has grown into China’s largest maker of metal-form­ing equip­ment. It is ranked among the world’s top three press mak­ers, thanks to its in­ten­sive ef­forts in in­no­va­tion and re­search and devel­op­ment.

Dur­ing the past 10 years, the com­pany has in­vested more than 1.5 bil­lion yuan ($221 mil­lion) in tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

The com­pany has an 80 per­cent do­mes­tic mar­ket share in the field of large-scale and high-speed stamp­ing lines and 30 per­cent share of over­seas mar­kets.

Zhang, Jier’s chair­man, said there is no need to rush to ex­pand busi­ness. What is more im­por­tant is en­hanc­ing the com­pany’s core man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pe­tence. “In­no­va­tion is a com­pany’s soul. Prod­ucts not armed with in­de­pen­dent in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights will have no com­pet­i­tive­ness in the mar­ket.”

China it­self has been a large con­sumer of ma­chine tools. The coun­try spent $27.5 bil­lion buy­ing ma­chine tools last year. But most Chi­nese ma­chine tool com­pa­nies can pro­duce only low-end equip­ment. They also rely heav­ily on im­ports of ad­vanced com­puter nu­mer­i­cal con­trol or CNC ma­chine tools.

Jier is track­ing these de­vel­op­ments closely. More so be­cause China has been al­lo­cat­ing spe­cial funds to sup­port R&D ac­tiv­i­ties in CNC ma­chine tools since 2009. That year, CNCs tools were listed among 16 ma­jor na­tion- al projects in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

Over the last eight years, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has spent 9.11 bil­lion yuan on R&D of CNC ma­chine tools. The sec­tor has added over 70.6 bil­lion yuan to in­dus­trial out­put, said Luo Jun­jie, a se­nior of­fi­cial of the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, at a news con­fer­ence on June 26. “CNC ma­chine tools are vi­tal for the coun­try’s ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ing ar­eas such as the auto, nu­clear power, aero­nau­tics and as­tro­nau­tics.”

Luo said do­mes­tic ad­vanced CNC tech­nol­ogy has caught up with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and do­mes­tic ad­vanced CNC tech­nol­ogy-pow­ered prod­ucts’ share of the Chi­nese mar­ket has ex­panded from 1 per­cent to 5 per­cent.

Medium-end CNC ma­chine tools have se­cured a quar­ter of the do­mes­tic mar­ket in 2016, up from 10 per­cent in 2009.

Luo also said that by 2020, the do­mes­tic CNC sec­tor should be able to meet 80 per­cent of man­u­fac­tur­ing de­mand from key ar­eas like avi­a­tion, aero­space and au­to­mo­biles.

From Jier’s per­spec­tive, that calls for a twin-pronged busi­ness strat­egy: go do­mes­tic and go global.

Four high-speed press lines, made by Jier Ma­chine Tool Group Co, are now be­ing used at the Detroit plant of Ford Mo­tor Co.

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