China is the country with the largest population in the world. When it hosts the Olympic Games in the year 2008, people around the world will become aware that the “Middle Kingdom” is a modern country presenting vast opportunities – if they did not know that before. Buhler has been active in China for over twenty years, a period during which the Group has established valuable relationships.
When you say China, you mean size: For millennia, the country has held sway over global culture. It is the most populous country in the world, covering a surface area comparable to that of the United States and the European Union. Buhler has been active in China for over twenty years. The Swiss Technology Group was on site right from the start – when China started its first reforms to open the market in 1978.
Since December 11, 2001, China has been a member of the World Trade Organization, WTO. This has made it easier for foreign investors to set up their own companies while retaining full control over them and employing their own staff. These so-called WOFE companies (wholly foreign owned enterprise), which are 100 percent owned by foreigners, are gradually replacing the common joint ventures with Chinese partners, which used to be the most popular form of business. Also Buhler has converted one of its joint ventures into a WOFE, now marketing all the products in the Buhler portfolio through its own distribution company – “Buhler China”. Buhler generates annual sales of over 80 million Swiss francs in China with its 700-plus employees. The third-largest manufacturing facility that Buhler operates is located in Wuxi, in the south of China. The factory is a successful joint venture with the Grain Bureau of Wuxi and even produces rolls. It is also in a position to recondition the rolls of customers of all the business units – an important service that Buhler customers covet.
Over 20,000 tons a day
Buhler has implemented grain milling projects in China which are capable of producing over 20,000 metric tons of flour a day. Size again. Therefore, it is no surprise that Buhler is the market leader in China when it comes to grain handling and processing. The image of Buhler in the Middle Kingdom is exceptional. Buhler is also the undisputed favorite supplier of many Chinese companies in the field of rice processing and in nonfood industries such as PET upgrading or die casting. It is true, though that the price of the top quality that Buhler supplies is still somewhat out of reach for companies in the poorer provinces in central and western China as well as for small customers. Nevertheless, those who can afford this premium quality may at least have their process technology updated by Buhler. Buhler’s closeness to customers is ensured by the sales and service branches in Wuxi, Shenzhen, Chang Chun, and the capital Beijing.
Like the Chinese economy itself, Buhler is also aiming at growth in China. Buhler wants to achieve stronger and – above all – more sustained growth than its competitors, says Buhler China general manager Dieter Voegtli. Voegtli identifies potential in all the business units. One area which Voegtli will set his focus on this year is die casting. Though trained experts are already supporting die casting customers from bases in China, what still lacks is the possibility of manufacturing high-grade die casting cells: Buhler offers them as a total package including the peripheral devices and the automation system. The same holds true for Sortex color sorters, which are in high demand. They enable, say, rice farmers to rid their harvests of dark or discolored grains. High-speed cameras test each individual grain dashing down a special channel, with high-speed, high-precision air nozzles ejecting grains defective in shape or color.
By establishing new production sites, Buhler China will gain the autonomy it already enjoys in existing fields in other areas. For example, the colossal ship unloading systems and bulk storage terminals in the port of Dalian will be increasingly manufactured in China itself. The possibility of transacting business in the local currency – RMB – will become an important factor of market success. Buhler China is also in a position to handle other large-scale projects on its own in the fields of flour milling, rice processing, animal feed manufacture, as well as many other business fields. Its core competencies also include an in-house service and training team, which instructs both Buhler and customer staff in the art of maximizing production capacity utilization, in maintenance, and in overhauls. Another example of the autonomy of the Chinese Buhler community is engineering, with an in-house team advising customers on the basis of global Buhler standards. This translates into faster start-ups and higher production effi ciency for customers. Especially in China, it helps customers when Buhler engineers design and specify production facilities with future capacity increases in mind that can be achieved at minimum extra cost and within a very short time.
Economies worldwide are changing constantly, and the socialist market economy of the People’s Republic of China is no exception. For a company such as Buhler, where innovation and development are an important part of the corporate philosophy, this is a perfect environment to be active in. “Continuous learning is as much part of the special abilities of our host country as it is for us,” comments Buhler China general manager Dieter Voegtli, who has been living with his family in China for nine years now. “Our yardstick is our customers’ success, and we seek a true partnership with them, with our suppliers, and of course also with our employees,” says Voegtli. One thing is for sure: In China, much more than just the economy will develop in giant leaps and bounds in the coming years. A Chinese might say: “The dragon has awakened and is flying ever-higher.”
Buhler is a global Technology Group and a system partner in the supply of plant and equipment and process know-how in the fields of Food Processing, Chemical Process Engineering, and Die Casting, with a payroll of about 6100 worldwide.
For more information on Buhler in China, please contact:
Dieter Voegtli, General Manager Buhler China in Wuxi, T +86 510 528 2888 ext. 200,
F +85 510 528 2889, E-mail dieter.voegtli(at)buhlergroup.com
For more information, please contact:
Detlef Janssen, Head of Corporate Communications, Bühler AG, CH- 9240 Uzwil
T +41 71 955 33 99, F +41 71 955 38 51, E-mail detlef.janssen(at)buhlergroup.com