“Why you should do production in China? I always turn the question around: why not? The production capacity is enormous. The knowledge is at the same level as in the West. Speed may be a drawback, but the lower cost of handiwork makes up for a lot”.
Arnoud Joosten is Project Manager in the Quality Department of Multifix. He supervises the outsourcing of production in China. Arnoud does not see a problem with every disadvantage. He looks for solutions. “With air freight you can also be fast. But I have to admit: with smaller series it’s better to stay in Europe”.
The most important advantage of production in China is the cost price?
“Of course, everyone knows that the cost price is lower in China. It’s hard to say how big the difference is. It depends on the product, the production processes, and the requested quality. The higher the customer’s quality requirements, the higher the cost price. Production costs also vary by region, although we mainly work with suppliers in the Shanghai region”.
“The spearhead of Multifix is that we are strict on quality requirements. We have 35 preferred suppliers who do multiple projects for us and with whom we also have a lot of experience. We know each other through and through. The bond that has been built ensures that you can trust each other. But in addition to these 35, we also have specialized suppliers with whom we have regular contact”.
How do you select Chinese suppliers?
“Our Shanghai colleagues visit potential suppliers. After a positive audit, they present them to us. After this, one of the Project Managers from the Netherlands visits the supplier. He ‘releases’ the supplier for making quotations and any resulting orders. During this first cooperation, the supplier is of course guided in our expectations and way of working. Guidance is very important. We do this together with our colleagues in Shanghai”.
“The quality of our suppliers in China is guaranteed by colleagues in Shanghai. Because our suppliers are familiar with our quality requirements – and our Chinese colleagues also supervise this – poor quality products are discovered and stopped at an early stage. In this way we guarantee that the customer only gets quality in the end”.
Do you visit China yourself?
“I’ve already visited several Chinese suppliers. Not in 2020 of course. Every employee in our department normally goes to Shanghai twice a year. The visits in China are used to maintain and expand the contact with suppliers. This way you can discuss quality problems and issues. You can also take a look at a supplier with a new production process. If you have a specific request that you would like to discuss with a particular supplier, you do it then.”
“With new suppliers we look at their possibilities and whether they can meet our quality requirements. New and potential suppliers are audited by our Chinese colleagues according to a pre-established protocol. If it turns out that we see opportunities, one of our Dutch colleagues will visit the supplier in question to make a decision. We do not take any risks. The customer should not experience any problems”.