With over 1.3 billion inhabitants, China is the world’s most populous nation with huge demand for professional production and automation technology. The market has been growing at record pace for several years now and Festo is investing heavily in order to benefit from this growth and capture market share in China and the rest of Asia. Festo supports its international customers and the Chinese economy with manufacturing, automaton and skills training solutions – made by Festo. At its facilities in Shanghai and Jinan, the company is now expanding its sales, production and logistics capacities. On 21 March 2012, Festo officially opened the new factory buildings at its facility in Jinan. “Customers in Asia expect the same service and excellent delivery as we are known for in Europe,” stressed Dr. Eberhard Veit, Chairman of Festo AG’s Management Board, at the opening ceremony. The plant extension will secure the company’s regional supplies to the Chinese market over the coming years and includes the expansion of local assembly, logistics and support. Located on the high-speed rail link from Beijing to Shanghai, Jinan offers ideal conditions for Festo’s future growth in China.
Festo has been enjoying double-digit growth rates in China for many years now. “The People’s Republic of China already boasts the world’s largest domestic market, highest industrial output and biggest automotive market – and as a result will also be the world’s largest market for automation technology in the coming years. China’s manufacturing industry is increasingly applying international quality standards. The clear trend among the country’s domestic manufacturers is away from manual labour and towards automated production processes. This offers tremendous growth opportunities, which we are already utilising and will expand further in the coming years. We are therefore currently investing € 20 million in the extension of our facility in Jinan,” stressed Dr. Eberhard Veit. And he added: “With our products, project engineers and engineering support specialists in China, we enjoy close market and customer proximity. This is the only way to fulfil customer needs in our largest growth market and perfectly tailor our products and services to local requirements.”
“Demand for Festo products and services, as well as our Didactic offerings, is booming. Energy-efficient solutions for green manufacturing and Metropolitan Solutions in the field of water/waste water have never been more popular. Numerous large international customers of Festo and all important sectors for us are represented in China. Festo China generates almost half its revenue with our customers in the Automotive, Tyres/Rubber, and Food & Beverage sectors. We supply these customers with solutions tailored exactly to their respective problems. This is why we are also increasing the number of support and service engineers in our sales organisation,” explained Dr. Hualai Qiu, General Manager of Festo China.
There is a clear trend towards manufacturing in the region for the region. At the same time, however, Europe – and especially the company’s high-tech manufacturing facilities in Germany – are also benefiting from this additional boost to growth. These facilities still create a high proportion of added value in all regions, and will continue to do so in future. “Our Chinese customers expect top quality ‘made by Festo’, with guaranteed supplies and next-day delivery at prices in keeping with local market conditions. At the same time, energy efficiency, environmental protection and occupational safety are becoming increasingly important. The factory extension in Jinan will secure our regional supplies to the Chinese market for the years ahead,” concludes Dr. Hong Zhou, Head of Global Production Centre Jinan.
Education partner Festo Didactic: skilled staff for companies in China
There is also a growing need for skilled staff in China. Over ninety percent of companies in China are already experiencing considerable problems recruiting skilled employees. “With our Didactic activities, we can help our European, international and also Asian customers train their staff in Asia,” explained Dr. Eberhard Veit. As the global market leader in industrial education and training, Festo is much in demand in China and is exporting Germany’s successful “dual” vocational and tertiary education system. Festo Didactic supports over 500 education partners, universities and industrial training centres – with everything from basic courses to turnkey equipment for technical learning centres. In China, Festo works particularly closely with five key universities in its field of expertise: industrial automation. These include Zhejiang University, Shanghai’s Jiaotong University and Huazhong University. Festo invests in the infrastructure of its partner universities to enhance their respective courses, research and preliminary application studies. There is also close cooperation in many fields with the renowned Tongji University in Shanghai, where Festo supports an endowed chair of the CDHK (the Sino-German University College for Postgraduate Studies) and an educational pilot project at the CDHAW (Sino-German College of Applied Sciences). The motivation behind this Chinese-German university project founded in 2004 was to export Germany’s successful practically-oriented tertiary education system (the University of Applied Science) to China. Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans Wilhelm Orth, General Coordinator of the project describes the system as follows: “The CDHAW trains practically-oriented engineers with cross-cultural skills for the German-Chinese economy. They are expected to find employment in German-Chinese business in both nations. A total of 450 students have graduated so far, of which 80% had dual degrees. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response from both German and Chinese industry. The current demand for skilled employees vindicates the approach we took with this project.”
Festo China also needs well-trained staff. In close cooperation between the management of GPC and Festo Didactic, a dedicated Training Center is to be established at GPC Jinan in order to provide suitable training for all employees in line with the company’s requirements. Based on the German “dual system”, there will also be a local educational institute where theory and practice are already closely linked in the courses provided. In cooperation with the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad, a local college and other companies, a three-year course for industrial mechanics was launched in 2011. During the course, students also spend time at GPC and are given an insight into production both at the company’s own Training Center as well as in the factory. After graduating, students can expect to take on highly qualified work at the facility.
Festo in China
Festo has been active in China since 1985. The cooperation between Festo Didactic and Tongji University also began in this year. In 1993, Festo founded its own national company based in Shanghai. In addition to a sales company and its National Service Centre (NSC), Festo then set up its Global Production Centre (GPC) Shanghai in 2005. This was followed in 2007 by the foundation of the Global Production Centre (GPC) Jinan – an industrial city with seven million inhabitants – resulting from the acquisition of JPC. The factory extension will lead to the relocation of the NSC Shanghai to Jinan in 2012 and the establishment of a Regional Service Centre in China to meet local market needs. Festo also has 42 sales and service centres throughout the country. Festo currently employs some 1,800 people in China, of which about 1,000 are employed at GPC Jinan, 650 in sales and around 120 at GPC Shanghai.