“We produce a safety component for a customer in China by casting it, but in their design the customer had not considered how the material would behave in the casting process. Our Chinese supplier had warned that the wall thicknesses would become too thin, so the drawing has been adjusted and we are now in full production. Without any problems.”
Arnoud Joosten is Project Manager at the quality department of Multifix. He supervises, among other things, the outsourcing of production in China. Arnoud works with great care, which apparently inspires confidence among customers: “We started out with one axle for a pump factory in Germany, now we make all the locking catches they need. We deliver them including ultrasonic testing of materials, quality certificates, a process plan, all necessary quality aspects. Not every supplier can do that. “
What does Multifix do differently in China?
“The strength of Multifix is that we guarantee quality before production starts in China, we have a quality department there that is supported by our colleagues in the Netherlands. No products, samples or mass production will be sent to the Netherlands, unless that they have been examined first by our Quality Engineer or one of the project managers. As a result, we have far fewer problems. “
“From The Netherlands, we are always in direct contact with our Chinese suppliers. This way we can immediately check the feasibility of a design and any production problems. We then look into it with some experienced production people, and with the customer of course. I have a lot of experience with metalworking, from an earlier job. With help from our colleagues, I can spot many problems. And when my knowledge is not sufficient, I can always fall back on my fellow project managers. We also talk a lot with our suppliers, to optimize production.”
How does the production process work in China?
“The customer first hands over the design, we don’t design ourselves. We will of course point out possible production problems, but in the end the customer is responsible for design and requirements. We then add our own data and comments, a design does not have to be wrong, but because of the distance to the production process we are extra critical. Details that you normally only discuss verbally are added to the design.”
“The final design then goes to the supplier in China for a quotation. This comes back with a price and any comments that we can submit to the customer. The design can be customized and, upon customer approval, we enter production. We always make samples for ourselves, with which we can tackle problems in advance. These samples are also sent to the customer for approval, but in reality we are adding extra safety before we enter mass production.”
What is the advantage of a sample?
“By making a sample, you can prevent unforeseen problems in the production process at an early stage. You can still respond, otherwise you will be too late for mass production.”
“Our production methods mainly focus on metal: turning, casting, forging, welding, et cetera. But also the activities associated with metal semi-finished products: assemblies, assembly, adding plastic parts, you name it. We have a lot of experience with the production of plastic parts, such as high-pressure casting, turning, milling, et cetera. Our colleagues from Multifix Assembly add the electronics, which usually doesn’t happen in China.”
Are there still prejudices about production in China?
“In the past, people sometimes said about production in China that ‘when you bring four containers, one is probably good’. This prejudice still prevails, even though the quality of Chinese products meets European standards. Customers also notice the good quality, and because of this quality they place new orders.”
“We now have a list of 35 Chinese ‘preferred suppliers’, it also contains the qualities that we use them for per supplier. We also regularly go to China ourselves, so you can see and understand how they work there. The Chinese look at products more functionally, more practical, they look for solutions. That’s a very different line of thought, but it doesn’t have to be wrong. We can also learn a lot from that ourselves, especially if your product mainly has to be functional.”
How long have you worked at Multifix?
“I have been working here for 4.5 years now, after gathering a lot of experience in metalworking. I started out as a welder and fitter, in the evening I studied for teacher. I was almost a welding technique teacher, when I received the offer from my employer to share my experience as a work planner at the company office. From that moment on, I let go of my educational ambitions.”
“For the work at Multifix, all my experience comes together: the contact with customers and suppliers, the technical insight, estimating costs. This also offers the customer advantages: if you have chosen the right production method, the costs are often also lower. The trick is to find the right combination.”
And you like the work?
“I like working at Multifix, it is the best step I have made in my career. I had found another job, when an acquaintance arranged a meeting for me at Multifix. The conversation went very smoothly, I talked about work for five minutes and about other things for an hour and a half. I immediately contacted the company where I would have started working, luckily they understood my motivation for choosing Multifix.”
“By now I don’t know why I should leave Multifix, I have very nice colleagues and very good contact with customers. But the world is not perfect of course, not even at Multifix.”
For more information about production in China, click here: https://www.multifixgroup.com/specials/