Today, we woke up early to take our private bus for the day at 7.30 am. After a two hours ride, we arrived to the HQ of the first company we will visit, Huawei. Their HQ are situated on the other side of the Pearl River Delta. You should know that Huawei is a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment founded in 1987 by Reng Zhenfei who is still the CEO. This company has more than 170’000 employees worldwide. We directly felt that we were in a multinational when we passed the entry. We have been welcomed by an Audi car that we followed to reach our destination and most of all, a digital signaler displayed our welcome just in front of the entry.
We started this visit with a presentation given by the VP for international operations at Huawei. He made an overview of the company. It was interesting to learn that Huawei have 16 research centres around the world, which is the proof of their globalization strategy and their choice to make R&D a key part of their business. In fact, 76’000 employees work in this sector of the company. Also, the R&D budget is higher than $6.4 billions.
Anyway, Huawei is present in Switzerland since 1998 in Bern and have now two other offices quarters in Zürich and Lausanne as it’s a country well known for its R&D dimension. They also the 3rd in the Swiss smartphone market. Another interesting point was their will to be present in the IoT market with their first project in collaboration with Schindler to improve the elevator systems. Once the VP was done, a designer explained us how the design was integrated and realized in Huawei. We learned that the CEO have a say even in the design decisions. We finished the presentation with an intense Q&A but I can’t tell you more about it ;).
After that, we all dress up; blouses, caps and slippers in order to visit the wireless network manufacture. Even if we had the feeling to visit a museum, it was still intriguing to see with our own eye how such a big manufacture works. From the components warehouse to the CQ, we saw all the major steps of the production line. During the visit, the guide explained us, for instance, the system used to award the good employees (quite different from what we can observe in western companies) and the 6sigma method – developed by Motorola – used for QC.
No picture authorized about this manufacture visit, sorry!
After the lunch, graciously offered by Huawei, we jumped into the bus again for two more hours. The second destination was Star Rapid, a company specialized in rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and low-volume manufacturing of custom parts. In few words, they propose rapid prototype processing to take a project from a concept stage to a manufacturable stage. It means that they are situated just before a massive production. To give you an idea, it corresponds to a maximum production around 10’000 units per month. Their USP differentiate them from their competitors (because they told us that in the Shenzhen area, it exists a thousand of similar companies) is their flexibility related to the customers’ requirements.
The short presentation was followed by a visit of the company. We saw the different part of the manufacture from the injection mold to the vacuum mold. We also saw the polishing, assembly and QC parts. We were impressed by the high-level standards for the manufacture which seemed to be no different from the western ones. The atmosphere was serious but relaxed. The employees were always open to answer our questions during the visit. Moreover, in the CNC machine hall, we could find some mottos representing the mood of the company (very similar to American spirit) – Do what you said you would do: that’s the STAR way.
Once we were done, Jonathan Ross, the Chief Executive Officer closed the visit with a little speech and we headed to the Sino-Swiss (European) Industrial Park (SSIP) which is located in Zhongshan. SSIP is a platform which designed for investment from Switzerland and other European countries including Healthcare and Medicine, Precision Manufacturing, Ecological Demonstration and Finance & Education.
After a presentation of SSIP and different speakers like Singou, an intelligent robot accelerator, all teams were invited to make their pitch. It was the first time that we heard the speeches from the CHIP teams. We were really impressed by their quality and by the evolution of the CHIC pitches compared the first ones we made in Hong-Kong, even if some technical issues appeared, the speakers were not disturbed.
After that, the SSIP invited us after the conference to a typical Chinese restaurant looking like a banquet. We were lucky to try several traditional dishes. Some of us were really troubled facing a chicken leg in their soup for example, but that’s part of the Chinese experience! Anyway, the food was delicious and I’d like to thank both the SSIP and the CHIC staff team for this day!
Finally, after a long ride home, we got back to the hotel around 11pm, exhausted so we went directly (well at least most of us) to bed to get some well-deserved rest.