Made in China Equipment: 'Soft skills' still lacking

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This posting launches a new section at the China Sourcing Blog entitled 'On the Ground,' which is written by members of the China Sourcing Unit of THE BEIJING AXIS and based on their direct experiences in conducting sourcing operations on the ground in China.

I am currently involved in some projects to assist foreign clients in sourcing machines and equipment from China, and I can share some of my experiences of the processes of delivery, installation and commissioning.

With the growth of China's equipment exports, the world is becoming more aware of China's relatively advanced technology and strong capacity to manufacture equipment, apart from China's traditional price advantage. However, when foreign buyers look closely at made-in-China equipment, they find that the problems lie in the details. Poor quality paint, bad welding and cuttings all reveal China's weakness in managing the details when compared to foreign brands. Even for packaging design, good foreign suppliers always fully consider users' convenience, while Chinese suppliers sometimes completely ignore the end-users' needs.

Chinese suppliers seem to care more about delivery times and schedules, which is why they can usually deliver on time. However, Chinese suppliers should learn to pay more attention to other factors. In my experiece, when installing and commissioning equipment in foreign factories, the process could often be suspended for safety reasons. Yet Chinese suppliers, if stopped from working, will complain about foreigners' over-cautiousness and 'low' efficiency.

Chinese suppliers are manufacturing equipment as sub-contractors under various world-class brands, i.e. Siemens, Demag, Danielle, etc. This is evidence of the growth of Chinese manufacturing capacity. Yet what Chinese suppliers still lack are 'soft skills' that would significantly improve professionalism and project management.  

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Andrew Reich Author Profile Page said:

Interesting post Richard. Do you have any recommendations for Chinese factories who want to improve the overall level of "soft skills" for their staff?

Diana said:

In my opinion, “soft skills” will be attained mostly from experience. Chinese companies now have more and more opportunities to have dealings with overseas companies. Chinese companies should pay more attention to the professionalism reflected from the small details and be prepared to absorb these and to behave in the same or even better way. The details mentioned above can range from trivial issues, such as format of the company documents, frequency of checking emails, the way to answer phones, work continuity when responsible person is on leave, etc, to higher level arrangements such as better packaging for clients’ convenience, highly efficient and productive meetings, creative thoughts to expand cooperation, etc. The process will take some time but according to TBA’s experience of dealing with Chinese companies during the past few years, we generally found they are quicker, more thoughtful and more organized, which means they have been leaning and leaning very fast.

In the other hand, foreign companies should also actively “teach” their Chinese partners to learn those details. Don’t assume your Chinese partners would do what you imagine they can do or they are supposed to do, because language and culture are always barriers.

Hmm, what about china outsourcing?

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