Balluff is expanding in China
Expansion to the plant in China's Chengdu opens
Automation specialist Balluff with headquarters in Neuhausen auf den Fildern invests further in their international market presence. Ten years after completing the first construction phase, Balluff has invested € 2.1 mil. to enlarge their plant in the Chinese city of Chengdu by around 50 percent. After around nine months of construction time 2000 square meters of production area in two stories and a 400 square meter multi-purpose area including a cafeteria are the visible expression of the growing significance of the Asian market for the German company.
“Seen from the long view China is the world’s largest market for production automation with a need that in our opinion will continue to grow for some time. In such a market we must and want to be present in a way that supports our philosophy of literal customer proximity. But this benefits not only Chengdu. We know from experience that a positive trend in a large market also ensures growth at the other locations of our production network,” emphasized Michael Unger, Spokesman for Balluff management at the opening of the new facility. In Chengdu Balluff will construct highly modern and semi-automated production lines while expanding the development expertise at the location.
Potential of the Chinese market recognized early
Within the global production and logistics network with nine plants in total Chengdu is one of two plants to concentrate on high volume manufacturing. Balluff has been active in China for over 20 years. A service subsidiary was founded in Shanghai in 1994. Two years later the company issued the first assembly orders for Chengdu – at that time to an external partner. In 2004 the daughter company was founded in Chengdu. The plant was opened three years later. Chengdu has also been a development site since 2014.
Balluff currently employs 160 people in Chengdu, but the company expects the number of employees to grow further over the next few years. Rolf Hermle, Advisory Board Chairman and former Executive Director of Balluff, recalls the early days of involvement with China. “In the 90’s the degree of automation at production facilities in China was still relatively low. But we were convinced even then that it would quickly rise, and that in the process China would become a market with enormous growth potential,” explained Hermle.
Balluff in Chengdu currently produces mechanical and inductive sensors as well as linear measurement systems for industrial automation. The new construction will serve to expand the product offering through semi-automated production and assembly of a sensor platform concept. This means the Chinese location can boast of one of the most modern manufacturing facilities in the entire production network. Engineering and development will also be significantly expanded over the coming years for developing both customizations and platform concepts.
“The key staff in Chengdu has been working at Balluff for 20 years. These people have acquired huge expertise over the years,” says Unger. “The experience and loyalty of the core staff is highly valuable. They represent the precondition for locating ever more complex products and demanding development projects in Chengdu. After all, our quality standards are in effect worldwide – regardless of whether a product is made in Germany, Hungary or China. This applies as well to the working conditions and the equipping of the workplace when it comes to ergonomics, technology and occupational safety.”
Globally applied standards
According to Technical Manager Unger all of Balluff’s essential standards are applied worldwide. Every location has similar training and qualification programs, exchanges within the network encourage sharing of experiences and expansion of horizons, and employees are included in the company’s growth and development as part of a supportive management culture. Unger: “We invest a lot of money in the working conditions of our employees – after all, we would consider it irresponsible for people at one location to have poorer working conditions than their colleagues at the German headquarters.”