Before we dive into the noteworthy developments taking place in Changshu, a city located next to Shanghai, here are a few facts about myself. My name is Carlos Teniente and I started working as a technical engineer for Contitech Mexico in 2004. From my perspective, I experienced working for Continental as a great opportunity for learning and self-development. Thanks to that, I was working next to Mexico, also in Brazil, and China which is my current location where I get addressed as the managing plant director.
My first impression of China was great and totally different from what I expected. An aspect I liked a lot were the very friendly people at our Contitech Air Spring plant. Furthermore, what impressed me the most was the rapid development of China, the speed in which projects were done, the high temperature and humidity in the Shanghai area in summer, the tall modern skyscrapers, and how deply embedded apps for smartphones are in the daily life. Living abroad comes also with different kinds of challenges. The most significant one I encountered in the first days were the language barriers, but after getting a translation app, it was not really an issue anymore.
For the fact that in China the watchwords are “faster, higher, further”, it is easy to project them also on the plant’s development. The last year was characterized by growth. We doubled our production capacity thanks to a new vulcanization station, five additional twin heaters and new assembly machines. Our goal here was to further localize our production, which we succeeded in doing. The product series for the customers FAW and Foton are good examples of that.
The great success of our plant in Changshu can be traced back to our employees who are really committed to their work, which makes me really proud, as nothing works without a good team. In addition, we enjoy a fantastic partnership with our colleagues in Germany and a close relationship with our customers. We achieved this primarily thanks to a new organizational structure in Changshu: The employees are now assigned to a variety of projects and tasks according to a fixed plan, which gives us capacity for further growth. To identify potential growth opportunities, we also established a new area – Business Development – at the location.
To capture and make use of the potential the Chinese market harbors, there are several areas where we will aim our scope on. In Railway Engineering, our long-term plan is to be able to produce the complete air spring system on site. When it comes to commercial vehicles, the number of them currently equipped with air spring systems is small. Consequently, we will experience a high demand in the coming years. We must prepare for this. That is why we are already planning to expand our plant from 6,000 to 9,700 m2. The building work is scheduled to begin at the end of the year and to be completed one year later.
Overall it can be said, teamwork and commitment deliver the success in Changshu and are the foundation which we use to achieve our future goals. Good team-work enables us to capture the huge potential the Chinese market offers and will be a great contribution to future success.