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Efficiency of inflatable boat makers up amid rising costs

Suppliers are streamlining HR and other business practices to limit price increases.

China’s inflatable boat industry is implementing several measures to contain the rising manufacturing outlay. Through these strategies, makers hope to keep price increases to a minimum and thereby attract additional orders from recovering economies. Some enterprises are also expanding their low-end selections to boost sales to emerging markets.

Inflatable boat
The 42001 model from Shanghai Balloon runs on a 4hp motor and can seat two persons.

Many suppliers are planning to keep adjustments in quotes within 10 percent in the months ahead. A few intend to charge the same by absorbing additional expenses.

To minimize the effect of this step on margins and ease pressure on prices, manufacturers are adjusting their recruitment process to address the demand-supply gap in personnel. Labor shortage is among the most pressing concerns in the sector, even with companies offering a $450 monthly salary, because several people cannot tolerate the odor of raw materials.

Further, many do not have the technical proficiency required in production. To save on training expenses and time, suppliers prefer to employ personnel that require minimal coaching to meet quality specifications.

One way that manufacturers are minimizing hiring costs is to conduct recruitment daily to ensure that critical positions are always filled. At some enterprises, salary packages are maintained even during the lean season to improve employee retention.

To ease workers’ responsibilities and provide a long-term solution to the shortage, a number of makers are investing in automation. Besides reducing manual intervention, doing so has resulted in consistent product quality and boosted efficiency by 30 to 40 percent.

For other companies, subcontracting orders to other factories is the preferred option.

Procurement is another business function that is receiving fine-tuning for better cost control. As aluminum-deck boats are popular, some suppliers purchase large quantities of the metal to negotiate for lower rates. Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd is among the makers taking advantage of the material’s long shelf life by storing inventory for future orders.

In terms of marketing, promotion is now primarily done online instead of international exhibits since the latter is more expensive. Because the product is bulky, participating in trade fairs entails spending for large booths and costly transportation.

Product trends
Product gallery
Product trends

Inflatable boat suppliers are modifying designs to meet production and sales objectives.

Under their cost-reduction strategies, many manufacturers are reducing boat size and employing less expensive materials. Such is the case at Oriental Recreational Products (Shanghai) Co. Ltd, which redesigned its $150 inflatable canoe to offer the product at $100. The company decreased the length of the boat from 3 to 2.5m and replaced the original EVA foam seats with inflatable ones.

Safety is another priority in R&D. To strengthen designs, gas cells are incorporated in parts that are prone to impact. Film is placed between two gas cells to stabilize air pressure and keep the boat balanced. At some factories, inflatable mats are added on the deck as further protection.

Models that can be easily disassembled and transported are emerging trends as well. These lightweight and portable designs can be equipped with motors that consume less power.

Qingdao Dongsheng offers foldable versions that can be fitted in a bag, carried or placed in the trunk of a car.

Decorations, patterns, accessories and colors are also gaining increased attention. Models in vibrant colors of light blue, orange and green are becoming popular. Variants in light gray top selections.

For user convenience, some enterprises have developed boats that can be inflated within 5 minutes. This is in contrast to previous releases, which needed 15 minutes.

Cushions, oars, ladders, driver’s seats and other accessories are also bundled with the latest boats for easier use. Repair kits, which normally include glue and PVC fabric, can be seen in many designs as well.

To keep product development on track with market trends and ensure the salability of a model, samples of new products are sent to overseas buyers for assessment. Feedback is then gathered and used as basis in fine-tuning designs.

Further, makers such as Oriental Recreational are employing foreign engineers who are acquainted with buyer preferences in Europe and other overseas markets.

Inflatable boat
Product gallery

Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd

Model: DS-F230
MOQ: 50 pieces
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Reinforced PVC hull; 2-person capacity; 230x132cm; 29kg

Inflatable boat

Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd

Model: DS-D460
MOQ: 50 pieces
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Reinforced PVC hull; aluminum deck; 8-person capacity; 96kg

Inflatable boat

Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd

Model: EN17
MOQ: 10 pieces
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Hypalon hull; fiberglass deck; 580x240mm; with locker, seat, steering wheel, 110L oil tank, anchor, oars, foot pump, life jackets and repair kit

Inflatable boat

Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd

Model: DS-D270
MOQ: 50 pieces
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Reinforced PVC; aluminum deck; 3-person capacity; 270x152cm; 48kg

Inflatable boat

Qingdao Dongsheng Yacht Co. Ltd

Model: DS-D360
MOQ: 50 pieces
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Reinforced PVC hull; aluminum deck; 5 or 6-person capacity; 360x168cm; 76kg

Inflatable boat

Shanghai Balloon Plastic Products Co. Ltd

Model: 42001
MOQ: 1,000 pieces
Delivery: 90 days
Description: 3P-free PVC; 2-person capacity; 230x128cm; 38kg

Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

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.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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