Visiting Etteplan in Kunshan
On the 13th day of our journey it was our privilege to be hosted by Etteplan in their largest Chinese office in Kunshan, which is a city roughly one hour away from Shanghai. Due to hard rain and the resulting traffic difficulties, our bus transport was delayed quite a bit, which cut the official part of our excursion visit significantly. We received a brief presentation on the Etteplan company and its role in the Chinese market by regional director Martin Zachrisson from Sweden, and after that some case examples from local engineers regarding projects they worked on.
Etteplan is a Finnish engineering design company that has currently over 3400 employees in seven countries. Etteplan’s services cover industrial equipment and plant engineering, software and embedded solutions, and technical solutions to various companies in the manufacturing industry. Some of Etteplan’s main clients are Kone and Valmet. In China Etteplan has eight offices and in Kunshan Etteplan designs solution in four different fields: mechanical engineering, electrical and automation engineering, engineering analysis, and technical documentation.
In the past China used to be place for basic engineering design production for offshore markets. However, cost of engineering work has increased rapidly in China and cheaper countries like Thailand have become more cost-effective places to do basic design works. Nowadays, 50% of jobs done in Etteplan’s offices in China are for China’s own markets and rest is for offshore markets. China has lost some of products that have been traditionally produced there to cheaper countries but simultaneously some production that demands higher expertise is shifting to China, such as shipbuilding. One of key factors when designing your supply chain is to know and calculate where to produce different items. Some countries may have lower salaries, but it can be challenging to find professionals to do jobs. Western company can never compete with price in China but have to offer products or services that are better than competitor’s or no one else isn’t offering.
Local engineers presented some of their works related to elevator design, reduction of NOx emissions in marine technology, and technical documentation. Technical documentation is now shifting to electronic format in China.
After going through these presentations, we had to move to our dinner destination, which was a classy western-styled restaurant nearby. Etteplan offered the whole package, and the bar was open. Our group managed to drink the whole restaurant’s beer reserves, which had allegedly never happened before. After the excellent dinner, we were transported back to our hotel residence in Shanghai.