Balluff has expanded its capacities in Chengdu. The company has been active here for almost 20 years and has grown close not only to the corporation, but also to many employees.
In early July, Balluff inaugurated a new 65,000-square-foot building, expanding the manufacturing floor by 75% and enabling the location to double its production volume. The plant in Chengdu, alongside the plants in Veszprém (Hungary) and Aguascalientes (Mexico), is one of Balluff‘s three major manufacturing locations. Here, the sensor and automation specialist manufactures more than 3,700,000 inductive and mechanical sensors alone as well as linear position measuring systems for industrial automation and other products. One advantage of the new production floor is its universal design, allowing for full flexibility as to which product lines and products will be manufactured here in the future.
During the planning phase for the new building, it was important to Balluff to maintain the comprehensive appearance of the entire location. Consequently, the sensor and automation specialist also modernized the existing building complex:
„We focused on sustainable solutions, especially when it came to the technical infrastructure,“ explains Frank Nonnenmann, who is responsible for the global production and logistics network in his role as Managing Director. Special attention was also paid to logistics during the planning phase: The existing and the new production floor are connected to shorten internal transport routes. The introduction of a digital assistance system streamlined processes in the high-bay warehouse and made them smarter. Thanks to state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, Balluff remains flexible, making everything possible from one-piece to large-scale production.
Highlighting the advantages of the various production capabilities, Nonnenmann says: “With this strength in product variety and precision, the expansion will lead to more product and component localizations, from which Chinese suppliers and others for the Chengdu plant will benefit additionally and be able to grow their business.”
"With this strength in product variety and precision, the expansion will lead to more product and component localizations, from which Chinese suppliers and others for the Chengdu plant will benefit additionally and be able to grow their business."
Frank Nonnemann, Managing Director at Balluff
Balluff in China
Balluff has been active in China for a long time: As early as 1994, the company founded its first service branch in Shanghai, and started manufacturing sensors in Chengdu in cooperation with an external partner in 1996. Balluff eventually founded its subsidiary in Chengdu in 2004 and opened its own plant three years later.
„We were pioneers back then, as we were the first German manufacturing enterprise here,“ says Erik Oortwijn, Managing Director at Balluff Sensors (Chengdu). Since then, the city has become the second largest economic center in western China and is currently booming. Oortwijn considers the fact that Balluff invested about CNY 50 million (approximately USD 6.8 million) in the new building a clear commitment to China:
“This investment in a new construction is worth a thousand words.” Nonnenmann agrees, describing Balluff’s strategy for China: “In our view, the Chinese market for production automation will continue to grow steadily for a long time to come. On a market like this, we want and need to be present with our vision of literally being close to our customers.”
The Chengdu location plays an important role for Balluff, since this is where the company manufactures innovative products not only for the Chinese, but the global market. Within the production and logistics network, the location serves as supplier for the APAC region and as lead factory for inductive sensors.
"Everyone who works here feels respected. Your position does not matter – everyone is important and contributes to the company’s success."
He Wencheng, Balluff Sensors (Chengdu)
Balluff as Employer
In its role as employer, Balluff has a very good reputation in Chengdu. „Many of our employees have been with us for several years,“ says Oortwijn, adding: „This low turnover rate is exceptional on the Chinese labor market and shows the great trust that Balluff has earned as an employer here.“
The staff feels appreciated. A long-time employee emphasizes that she appreciates Balluff’s efforts to support its employees’ development. At the same time, the company increases productivity and employee satisfaction. As is the case everywhere at Balluff, employees are offered a high degree of flexibility, which creates the right conditions for good cooperation. Paying attention to a good work-life balance for all employees, the company organizes a wide range of team-building measures, such as excursions, barbecues, and family days.
“This decreases the personal stress levels of our employees,” says Wang Liting, who is responsible for logistics at Chengdu. Another aspect that is much appreciated is the way the company communicates with its employees: with clear rules, but openly and across hierarchical boundaries. He Wencheng, who works a the plant in Chengdu, describes the atmosphere at the Balluff location as follows: “Everyone who works here feels respected. Your position does not matter – everyone is important and contributes to the company’s success.” In addition, the employees in Chengdu appreciate the good working conditions at the location.
“The equipment is of high quality and always kept up to date,” says Peng Jin, team lead in BNI production. Accordingly, the new building was also designed to expand the infrastructure for the employees and includes changing rooms, training rooms, and parking spaces. Balluff now wants to benefit from its good reputation as an employer, because with the new building, the company is creating 300 new jobs that are to be filled quickly.