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14 FOCUS PSI Journal 5/2016 »As we work only with reputable certified factories, we feel little change.« TORSTEN MÜNICH, GLOBAL INNOVATIONS In recent years, the standards of Chinese factories have become much higher and working conditions have greatly improved. Large factories with high social standards are becoming stronger and factories that cannot meet these standards are getting more problems. As far as „cheap factories“ are concerned, we have repeatedly heard of economic difficulties and bankruptcies lately. As we work only with reputable certified factories, we feel little change, especially as we have established an effective quality management. In recent years, we have ended our collaboration with several factories that were unable to meet our high standards and certificate requests. POSITIVE SIGNALS Despite the current trends, many things have changed for the better in recent years: Our partners have been working more accurately, they are able to implement our ideas faster and mostly have development teams that support our product designers in the implementation stage. As we own a great many patents and develop individual innovations together with universities, we place great emphasis on strong development teams in China. We now also have an on­site product designer who, if necessary, can assist the developers to perfectly implement the factory. This enables us to save a lot of development time. SUPPLIER LOYALTY IS WORTHWHILE Our long­standing partners are much more accommodating when it comes to terms of payment. Consequently, we have become much more loyal to our suppliers as it requires a huge effort to audit new factories and build trust. Not every factory can perform a major contract with virtually no buffer. To this end, both sides of the team must be perfectly coordinated. As major trading groups in particular have reduced their quantities significantly, there are currently more idle times in some factories and in a current project it is even possible to completely utilize all 15 machines of the factory for 2 months for our production. INVESTING IN COOPERATION If you have built up solid and stable relations with your Chinese partners in the past, then as a European company you will overcome any crises. However, we have scrutinised our suppliers very closely and invested a lot of effort in contracts, factory standards and supplier cooperation and we know the decision­makers personally. We also work only with factories that sign our master agreements, prepared by international lawyers, at the start of the cooperation. This is the only way to ensure that each fac­ tory complies with our high social standards, quality standards, and in particular European directives. RELYING ON SPECIALISTS Even a BSCI certificate does not necessarily mean that a factory is a very good one. In recent years, we have regained many distributors who gave up importing themselves, and even large importers gladly implement slightly more complex projects with us. Even those who always rely on the most favourable manufacturers are not well advised. It often happens that the documentation is not correct, that the products were in fact manufactured in a non­certified factory or that the materials previously tested were not used in mass production. Rely on specialists who know the factories and decision­makers on site! »In our business, the more recent developments have only a slight impact.« THORSTEN KÖHLER, CIMEX/REEKO DESIGN For decades, China’s economy has been extremely dependent on exports. Meanwhile, it focuses more and more on national consumption. As a result, in some cases manufacturing capacity for exports is “repurposed” to supply local, better paying customers on time. For years, wages have ceaselessly increased and, in many cases, have reached a higher level than in many Eastern European countries. FOR LARGE ORDERS ALMOST UNBEATABLE China must achieve high growth rates in order to avoid social unrest and to keep the employment rate as high as possible. At the same time, simple, antiquated industries that produce little innovation are being reduced, not least due to environmental concerns. The big advantage is and remains the inexhaustible reservoir of manpower that can even be used to quickly complete large jobs provided that the plant is organised accordingly. This is not possible in almost every other country in the world. So much about the situation. PROFESSIONALISATION CONTINUES The current changes are leading to a further professionalisation (for example in relation to social and environmental standards, innovations,

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