While such model introduction plans would benefit local consumers, Hu also noted that expansion at this level came with risks related to over-capacity. New technologies, he said, would allow the adoption of flexible production strategies which could off-set associated problems, the implementation of these same technologies coming as a direct result of what the carmaker had learned during the recent market downturn outside China.
Wang Jianhua, Director of Utility Engineering – Beijing Hyundai
Beijing Hyundai's Director of Utility Engineering, Wang Jianhua, highlighted the Korean company's goal to achieve 'clean' production in China. He noted that as part of this programme, the carmaker had installed new panel presses, increasing capacity from 7.8 to 15 stampings per minute while reducing energy consumption by 25%. In the paintshop, Wang also noted that Hyundai had made major reductions in the use of phosphorous in the body treatment area.
Chen Jianwei, Vice General Manager at Guangzhou Automobile, while highlighting the fact that all carmakers had a social responsibility to cut emissions in line with government regulations through the use of technology solutions, also pointed out that labour issues and worker's rights were becoming increasingly important across the Chinese automotive industry.
Chen Jianwei, Vice General Manager – Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor
With changes including a government-set minimum wage, Chen noted that 'the era of cheap labour is over'. This, he continued, would force those carmakers that had been relying on labour savings in order to control costs to increasingly turn to automation.
Another factor that Chen said would lead to carmakers purchasing additional automation solutions was the apparent shortage of skilled labour, brought about by the rapid expansion of the Chinese automotive manufacturing sector. "Companies that have been using cheap labour will have to automate in order to remain competitive," he said.
In addition to the full two-day conference, the AMS China event featured an 'Ask the Carmaker' panel, where delegates could pose questions to top manufacturing executives from GM, FAW-VW, Ford, SAIC and Chery Automotive. Another event at the conference was the Microsoft and Rockwell round table, which covered the convergence of IT and operations to create an umbrella communications tool to enable greater visibility of the complete automaking process.
For a full report on the AMS China conference, please be sure to see our July/August issue.
Man + Machine:
raising output and quality to keep pace with China's demand
The booming market is setting new kinds of production challenges. The objective now is rapidly-increasing quality standards which satisfy discerning Chinese buyers in a highly competitive marketplace, while delivering the volume to meet the demand.
Automation and the latest technologies are a part of that. But so too is low labour cost. The right blend of man and machine in the Chinese context is the overall theme of the first AMS China conference.
The conference brought together domestic and jv OEMs, and the principal tier suppliers, with the providers of all the technologies which make up vehicle manufacture and assembly. Attendance was at the VP/production director and plant management level, and will be from within China and the rest of the world.
Subject matter covered:
production and plant case studies, and the blend of labour and automation
sessions on specific technologies, from forging, stamping and cutting, and BIW and paintshop, and on to robotics, test and measurement
skills and human factors
automation, and the planning & management of the digital factory
the green and clean environment required for 2010 production.
Track record of AMS conferences
AMS has organised international conferences in many locations, including Detroit, Leipzig in Germany, and Mumbai in India. One of the most recent events held in the automotive hub of Pune, India from 30 Nov – 3 Dec 2009, attracted almost 300 attendees, along with technology displays from 25 vendors.
Speakers included senior executives from the principal domestic OEMs Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki and Tata, and from the transplants including Ford, GM, Mercedes, Renault Nissan and Volkswagen. Tier suppliers like Tenneco and Cosma and technology providers from Durr to Microsoft to Uddeholm were also on the panel. See the programme and speakers.