The first installment of this two-part series presents the province's advantages as a key manufacturing base for switches.
Jiangsu province is enhancing its status as China’s second largest production base for switches through sustained R&D and further expansion of industries that will boost demand for the line. The area generates about 10 percent of the country’s total output for the category, and has a similar share in export sales and volume.
The first is under taken with academic institutions such as Nanjing University, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications or NUPT, and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Southeast University and Yangzhou University are also part of the support pool.
NUPT, in particular, has a team that turned out an intelligent switch based on the Internet of Things technology. The device monitors voltage, frequency and power consumption, and can cut off supply automatically when devices are left idle for a period of time. Trial operation proves use enables energy saving of 10 to 15 percent. The university will work with makers in the province to embark on commercial manufacture this year.
The local government, meanwhile, is implementing subsidy policies on terminal applications such as home appliances and LED products, which will help promote the switch industry. The line also looks to benefit from growing opportunities in the electronics, automotive, medical equipment, instruments and meter sectors.
In terms of overseas sales, Jiangsu anticipates 10 to 30 percent YoY growth this year, with makers’ confidence buoyed by greater competitiveness from product upgrades and recovering markets. In 2012, export revenue declined by 10 to 20 percent due to depressed demand from the US and the EU.
The province is in the central part of the eastern coastal areas in China, specifically on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It overlooks the Yellow Sea on the east and is adjacent to the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui and Shandong, and Shanghai.
The hub has seven major ports, of which five are on the coast and two are river harbors, with a collective throughput ranking first in China. Eight airports cater to more than 200 airlines, including 36 international ones. Expressways exceed 5,000km.
There are 300 switch enterprises in Jiangsu, congregating mainly in the cities of Changzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Wuxi. They make up 10 percent of China’s supplier pool for the category.
Up to 80 percent of suppliers in the province are small and medium operations. Large businesses with production experience surpassing 10 years are the rest. One such maker is Nova Electronics Co. Ltd, which was established in 1971. The manufacturer specializes in push-button, rocker/paddle and rotary types, which are widely used in household appliances, electric power and gardening tools, TVs, computers and telecom equipment. Philips, Samsung, Daewoo, Panasonic and Sanyo are among Nova’s major clients. The other key players in the area include Changshu Tongrun, Changshu Switchgear and Jiangsu Su Zhong.
The province also plays host to a number of foreign-invested businesses. They turn out high-end switches, helping position Jiangsu’s switch industry. Jiangsu Merlin Gerin Electrical Co. Ltd, a joint venture between a state-owned supplier and Schneider Electric of France, is one such operation. The maker offers various switches and circuit breakers with enhanced safety and intelligent attributes.
The switch sector benefits from Jiangsu’s pool of upstream suppliers numbering more than 500 and offering switch molds and parts such as shafts, gears, rockers, keyboards and housings.
There are likewise the area’s mature copper and aluminum processing segments. Nearby Shandong and Shanghai are abundant sources of steel, and PET, PC, nylon and other types of plastic.
Based on supplier profile across industries, the province has 1.2 million private enterprises, which is the highest in China for a decade now.
Manufacturing there is, however, not without challenges. As with other coastal hubs, suppliers in Jiangsu continue to face mounting labor shortage and costs. The area relies on about 3 million migrant workers to support its industries. Every year, the number drops by 10 to 30 percent, forcing companies to recruit new personnel, offer more attractive salary packages and invest in training. This year, the basic monthly wage of a technical worker there has increased to $321 from $289 in 2012.
Makers likewise deal with fierce competition and stricter requirements from international markets. This drove small operations from the line in the past three years.
To cope, the majority of suppliers have been upgrading equipment. They adopt CNC mold and laser-cutting machining centers, and welding robots imported from Japan, Germany and Sweden. A 3m automotive production line composed of one robot and five to seven machining centers, for instance, can take the place of 10 workers and run for 24 hours.
Manufacturers ensure better product attributes by using high-end and environment-friendly materials. Changzhou Beiter Electronic Co. Ltd sources copper and nylon from South Korea and Taiwan. Its releases comply with RoHS and REACH guidelines. Changzhou Shengjie Electronic Co. Ltd imports all inputs from Japan.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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