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Liebherr plant in China
In 2019, Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH opened facilities in Yongchuan in South West China for the manufacture of generating grinding and gear hobbing machines. After an initial phase plagued by difficult conditions and restrictions caused by the pandemic, the production plant is now operating smoothly at the new site – and all thanks to a motivated team on site and exemplary support from Kempten. And demand for the machines is on the rise.
Liebherr has been an active player on the Chinese market since opening its first office in Beijing in 1978. In 2014, a Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH sales office opened in Shanghai. China has meanwhile developed into one of the most important export countries for top of the range gear cutting machines and automation systems. For that reason, in 2016, the company decided to find a suitable location for a production plant to serve the local market. The choice was made to settle down in Phoenix Lake Industrial Park in Yongchuan, a Chinese government-backed industrial and business site in a district of the metropolis of Chongqing.
Good cooperation with the Chinese authorities
5,000 square meters, spacious offices and a showroom where generating gear grinding and gear hobbing machines are presented. There is a technology and training center for educational and further training purposes. After determining the right location, it took around two years to reach full-scale production after taking over the empty building. “First, we had to adapt the hall to our requirements. For example, we needed stronger cranes to lift the heavy machines and a new ventilation system to keep the temperature constant for the production of the high-precision gear grinding machines,” explains Boris Angerer, Plant Manager. “But we worked in close cooperation and partnership with the Chinese authorities.” The opening of the plant was celebrated on May 22, 2019.
We have built up a well-functioning network of suppliers here in China.
Rising production numbers, high quality standards
The ambitious goals were initially put on hold by the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. Nowadays, you wouldn’t even know it and demand is high. “We have a high volume of orders for 2023 and the numbers for the years to come are just as promising,” says General Manager Manfred Kaut delightedly. There are currently 16 members of staff, ten of which have been hired in the last year. And demand for staff is growing since production has more than doubled.
Although complex specialized machines are still manufactured in Kempten, the machines built for the Chinese market fully comply with German quality standards. This means that suppliers must also adhere to strict criteria. “We have built up a well-functioning network of suppliers here in China,” reports Angerer “Our customers are very happy, as you can tell from the increasing number of orders.”
A flexible and motivated team
Angerer is very pleased with the development. During the pandemic, work on various solutions was carried out in the background to enable a return to full-scale manufacture today. The team is qualified in many areas and can tackle a wide range of tasks. “Improvisation and good communication are everything here. During the pandemic, as a result of travel restrictions, we were forced to be more independent vis-a-vis Kempten,” explains Angerer. “But the support is as amazing as always. We coordinate our activities in weekly online meetings, and the local employees have personal contacts in Kempten who they can contact at any time to ask any questions they may have.” There is also a close relationship with the Service office in Shanghai. “It’s really a joy to see how everything has come together and allowed us to pick up momentum!” he concludes.