Monday, June 16, 2008

Arriving In China and First Impressions of Chinese Industry

Hello everyone I am now settled into my routine here in China and I need to give you an update! I have done so many things over these 3 + weeks so I will start from the beginning to fill you in.

My adventure began when I flew from Minneapolis to Shanghai with a stop in Chicago. I flew into Shanghai so I could visit MEGTEC (A company that paid for my plane ticket!) and also visit some relatives in a nearby town, Hangzhou. From Chicago to Shanghai it was about a 14 hour plane ride but I got bumped up to business class! I have never been in anything other than coach so it was a fun ride.

When I touched down in Shanghai I took a train to a subway station and from there I went to my hostel. My first impression was that it was really hot and humid (not like the Minnesota/Wisconsin weather I had just left) and of course there were lots of people! It was a little intimidating to be in a city the size of Shanghai by myself but I had no problems getting where I needed to go. I checked into my hostel put my things in a locker and then headed out for some excitement on the more popular streets in Shanghai, East Nanjing Road. I really wanted to see the Shanghai skyline at night because I had seen pictures of it, and it lived up to my expectations. I didn’t know what time the subway stopped (I had tried to ask in my limited Chinese but was still unsure) so I decided to head home and get a good night’s sleep.

The next day I went to visit MEGTEC which was outside the city center. I took a subway to my stop and then got off. I was instructed to get in a taxi from there but I didn’t see one, there were a bunch of guys on motorcycles waving me over to them so I decided to give it a try! I hoped on the back of one and away we went. We eventually got to the factory and the ride only cost a little over a dollar (I realize now though that he overcharged me!)

I got a tour of the plant and saw the two types of machines that they make. I don’t know exact details but I can tell you that one of them is a splicer used for large printers. About 150 hours go into one machine and it is all done my hand with some tools, no automation. I was very surprised to find out that a factory in China…well looks like a factory in Wisconsin. I have been on many tours of factories in the Chippewa Valley with APICS (a management club on campus) and besides the fact that the workers didn’t speak my language the place looked normal. I was expecting that they would work long hours in not the best conditions but it was exactly opposite.

I was also able to sit down with one of the operations managers and the purchasing manager. They told me about the different production strategies they use (all the same as the one’s we learn in class) like Lean, Kanban, 6 Sigma, MRP, etc. A lot of their suppliers are in China also but they mentioned that for some components it is actually cheaper to get them from America! It is cheaper because they get them direct from another MEGTEC in Wisconsin, but still interesting. It is also faster to get them from America than China also because parts from America come by air where as parts from Chinese suppliers come by rail or truck. The lead times for some Chinese components were a month or more!

After my visit to MEGTEC I went to my relatives in Hangzhou and then to Guangzhou where my internship is.

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