Chinese innovators help build global manufacturing advantages
King Long buses are currently in use in almost 130 countries, and the company has so far exported over 80,000 buses globally.
A fortnight back I embarked on a trip to the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China. We decided to use the famed number 877 bus, which is run by the Beijing Public Transport authority. Hailing from a country where public transport facilities still require improvement, both my wife and I agreed, after our comfortable two-hour ride, that the world has a lot to learn from China regarding both the quality of buses and the way the country runs its public transport system.
We subsequently checked and found that we had been traveling on a King Long bus. Fifteen days later I had the privilege of visiting King Long United Automotive Industry’s manufacturing base in Xiamen, where many of the public transport buses I have taken during my five-month stay in China were assembled.
An assembly line for buses at the King Long bus manufacturing base.
One of the first things that you notice on reaching the plant is its massive size. Spread over nearly 400,000 square-meters, the plant can produce almost 20,000 large and medium-sized buses alongside around 30,000 vans every year.
The plant contains an advanced automotive production line for stamping, welding, electrophoresis, paint coating and final assembly.
According to officials at the base, it takes nearly 17 days to manufacture each bus. In 2016, the company is said to have sold almost 32,000 buses, with a revenue of around 8.66 billion yuan.
According to Chen Yuxin, manager of the Asian Section, Overseas Sales Department of Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry, nearly a third of company revenue comes from selling their products on the international market. King Long buses are currently in operation in almost 130 countries, and the company has exported over 80,000 buses around the world so far.
While King Long has a global reach, what was impressive to see was that it sustains itself in extremely competitive markets by offering world-class products. It produces these sturdy vehicles by putting them through a strenuous quality verification process in its vehicle test center, including a power chain bench and road simulation testing room.
A model of an electric van that the company is producing.
Another important aspect of the visit was to see the company's constant product improvements. It has created a smart control system for its vehicles which adjusts power, torque, and speed of the vehicle based on road conditions. This automatic system not only guarantees power but also reduces fuel consumption. Another innovation is a panoramic system which helps drivers assess the conditions outside the vehicle, helping them to avoid blind spots. It's clear to see the technological breakthroughs that are being carried out to improve both driver and passenger comfort in China.
The most thrilling part of the visit was getting to see the driverless vehicles that King Long is currently developing. The blue autonomous minibus can seat 14 people and may become a regular sight on Chinese city streets in the near future. Seeing the driverless van moving around the plant on its own with no human control was quite a sight.
The visit gave an insight into how Chinese companies like King Long are independently innovating to build manufacturing advantages for China, but also for the rest of the world.[ Editor: zy ]