by Renaud Anjoran
Here are some interesting or useful articles that I found recently.
In January 2013, Walmart promised to favor US-made products. But those companies trying to “reshore” production face many obstacles. Rebuilding manufacturing capabilities and a network of component suppliers will take many years.
Certain parts still need to be imported from China (e.g. small motors, plastic injection molding equipment, computerized cut-and-sew tools). But there are already a few success stories.
It is now official. Based on recent statistics, robot sales in China are the highest in the world. Only a quarter of these robots were made in China, but local production is picking up fast.
Robot sales are rising in many Asian countries (Korea, Taiwan, India…), in the US and Canada, Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, etc.
After Guangzhou, Dongguan city has planned a big push in favor of industrial robots. This initiative includes the creation of several “robot industry parks” and the acceleration of robot adoption by local manufacturers.
An undercover report by Chinese state media (Xinhua) reveals how common it is for Chinese manufacturers to obtain certifications (from ISO 9001 to organic food) without complying to standards.
I guess this won’t be a surprise to long-time readers of this blog. I have written about China’s deep-rooted bribing habits many times.
This Guardian article focuses on hardware startups that are locating en masse in Shenzhen city. It makes sense since many components are made locally and there are good assembly factories. There are already accelerators/incubators, as well as a high number of startups. And the city is moving in the right direction.
Jacob Yount explains why Chinese suppliers (especially small suppliers) don’t spend much time and energy on quotations. A first quote is only a rough indication of the price. This article is a good overview of communication disconnects between manufacturers and importers.
After registering certain IP rights and with a solid contract in place, a foreign company can put a Chinese manufacturer and a Chinese distributor in direct contact, while keeping control of the process and earning a profit.
However, I can imagine why importers would have hesitations. With this setup, Chinese companies can guess the foreign company’s profit and be strongly tempted to circumvent the contract…
This article, originally published in the Financial Times (behind a paywall), describes the business model of Zara, the largest fashion retailer in the world. They have managed to compress the design & production cycle from 18 months to a few weeks!
See how an American early employee of Alibaba did his best to describe Jack Ma (the company’s founder) in a positive light. It makes for an interesting glimpse inside the Alibaba Group’s culture.
A new company has designed a device performing chemical analysis on the fly… and on the cheap!
Unfortunately, they are starting with applications for food only. In a few years, if it really works, this device will probably be part of every inspector’s toolkit.