20/03/2019 – Lectra — auf Deutsch lesen
China – the new high-tech force
In recent years, China’s industry has progressed in leaps and bounds and at an incredible speed. The country has waved goodbye to cheap production and is turning its attention to high-tech solutions.
Javier Garcia, President Asia-Pacific at Lectra, reports on the trends shaping the Chinese market and the huge potential for technological innovations.
China has been quick to push the digitalisation of companies. What are the main success factors here?
Javier Garcia (JG): If you look back just a few years, China was a cheap production country which used low wages and its huge labour force as the pillars of its economic strategy. This has radically changed in the past five to ten years with wages increasing and labour in short supply. Today, many Chinese sectors, such fashion and apparel, furniture and automotive, are embracing digitalisation and high-tech production solutions. The Chinese government has launched the “Made in China 2025” initiative as well as several other programmes and financial incentives to encourage industry to modernise, whilst raising the level of automation and digitalisation. The automotive industry has developed slightly differently, not least because it is relatively new to China. The majority of car factories have only been built in the past few years, such that high-performing, high-tech production solutions have been put in place right from the start. As a result, there’s no dead wood to contend with in terms of non-digital or non-automated production solutions.
How are market conditions in China?
JG: Compared to other countries, the thinking and mentality of customers in China is very different. There’s huge market potential in those areas in which Lectra operates because the majority of companies are on the lookout for the best new technologies and solutions. They’re always striving to improve their processes still further and they’re not afraid to embrace new technologies. This gives companies like Lectra so many opportunities, and we can use our experience and latest innovations to accompany and shape these industries as they evolve.
To what extent do the needs of companies and managers in China differ from those of your customers in Europe or America, for example?
JG: The main difference lies in speed. I think it’s fair to say that Chinese managers make decisions ten times faster than managers in North America and Europe. All this is accelerated by the government’s stance which is very much committed to digital transformation. Let me give you an example: just a few years ago, Lectra launched FocusQuantum, a new laser cutting solution for airbags. Whereas companies in North America and western Europe take one or several years to validate a product, one Chinese company decided to buy FocusQuantum even before its official market launch.
What kind of trends have you identified across China’s many industries and what implications do they have for companies such as Lectra?
JG: The level of automation and digitalisation in China’s fashion and apparel industry has drastically increased in the past few years. Here, it’s not just the leading companies but actually the majority of the market that operate within a high-tech environment. It’s exciting to see how quickly the market and thus demand in China is changing. These days, solutions that achieve high outputs are no longer the most widely sold systems. Demand is greatest for technologies that manage personalised and customised products for making bespoke high-end clothing.
Compared to the clothing and automotive industries, the furniture industry has definitely been the slowest sector to incorporate digital technologies into the production process. Here, we’re not only experiencing growth potential in digital cutting, but we’re also seeing huge interest in digitalised product development processes, as the trend towards customisation continues to make inroads in the furniture industry. In addition, companies are investing in processes that facilitate enhanced design and higher-quality materials as these aspects are playing an ever more important role for customers.
The latest trend in car interiors is to clad not only the seats but also the entire interior, including doors, cockpits and centre consoles, with fabric or leather. This enables companies to offer customers a larger variety of options whilst setting themselves apart from their competitors. The main challenge lies in supporting our clients with technologies and processes that allow them to produce small lots of individualised products as well as the option to switch between configurations quickly – preferably without significantly increasing costs. Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, the world’s biggest supplier of car interiors, relies on the Vector iX6 automatic cutting solution from Lectra to meet the growing demand for customisation and to achieve its goal to actively shape the automotive world of the future.
Many thanks for talking to us.