Friedrichshafen, Germany — Last year, China got a head start. By the time the rest of the world was battling what turned into a crippling pandemic, China had already managed to suppress the worst of its initial outbreak.
Able to work at 100 percent capacity when no one else could worked very much to Haitian International's advantage, said Niels Herz, sales manager for Germany at Haitian.
"As a German subsidiary of our Chinese mother company, we had machines in stock at our plant in Germany. During that period, some segments — packaging and medical, for example — boomed. Desperate for machines, the companies in those sectors were looking for someone to supply new machines, and we were the ones who could do it," he said.
China has undergone an incredible technological development in the past 20 years. It is no longer the low-cost production country of even 10 years ago.
The level of production automation in the country is incredible, said Herz. "It's all machines building machines."
Haitian, he added, is focusing on full automation and has partnered with Huawei on that. "We just launched a new facility — a 'smart factory' in South China — where it's only robots doing all the work," he said.
The market share in Europe has grown tremendously over the past six years. Since the creation of Haitian International in Europe, there are countries — Italy is one — where Haitian has already grown to become the market leader. "And globally, Haitian has a market share of around 50 percent," Herz said.
He added that Germany and Japan were the two markets that were most difficult in the world to gain any traction at all. Made in China, as all of Haitian's machines are, was, for a very long time, not a recommendation.
"But in 2015, when the Haitian and Zhafir brands came together in Haitian International, acceptance of the Haitian machines started taking off in Germany, so it was apparently the right time to enter that market," he noted.
"We used to get parts from China and assembled in Germany in order to carry a Made in Germany label. But this is no longer important," he added.