From Pasta to Rice Noodles – Visiting our Platinum Sponsor Bühler AG

By Yannick Godat

Time flies by very quickly and unfortunately, we already reached the last day of company visits. Today’s targets were this year’s sponsors Bühler AG and Brugg Cables.

The day started with a bus tour from Suzhou to Wuxi which took us about one hour. As soon as we arrived at our destination, we were warmly welcomed by the Head of Business Development Mr Jürgen Simon. Bühler AG is a traditional family owned business which exists already since more than 150 years and is active in over 140 countries. The company is market leader in processing grains, rice, cocoa and many other raw materials. Further, Bühler AG has a leading position in providing solutions of die-casting and surface-coating technologies.

Our visit was split into 4 parts. It all started with a short presentation about the company, its technologies and their products. Bühler AG interestingly follows the philosophy “Innovation for a better world” which reflects their corporate investment in sustainable production. The second part of our visit was a tour through the company’s facility. We had the chance to see many different areas such as the foundry, training center as well as the assembly line. Especially the training center was impressive. We saw many different machines such as a packing machine for Ferrero Rocher or the 4-level-miling-machine for which Bühler AG is well known all over the world. Then, the delegation had the chance to ask all questions which were left after the presentation and the tour in the third part of our visit. Not only Mr Jürgen was answering our questions, he invited also several experts from different sectors such as the head of HR at the headquarter or the head of commercials in China. The fourth and final part of our visit was a joint lunch with Bühler AG. We had the unique opportunity to enjoy a delicious noodle soup and some other dishes while networking with the experts of Bühler AG.

Thanks to Bühler AG the delegation of Insight China could enjoy a very interesting and informative morning.


Promoting Relationships between Switzerland and China – Our Visit at Swissnex Shanghai

By Melina Schenkel

After our visit at ABB Robotics, we were welcomed by Swissnex at its office in Shanghai. Isabel Götz, Head of Operations, General Manager Swissnex China, ad interim gave us an overview about the daily business of the Swissnex – it is connecting China and Switzerland regarding science, education, art and innovation. In general, Swissnex China is an initiative of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), managed in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs. A main part of Swissnex is to promote Switzerland as itself and as an innovative country. However, the Swissnex does also additional tasks such as the promotion of Swiss Universities, welcoming Summer schools and delegations, leading ventures or the development of e-learning tools.

Afterwards we got an insight about the Swiss Business Hub in China. The topics were demographic shift, declining labour force and rising labour costs. China is facing the same demographic shift as Switzerland – nowadays, there are more elderly people than from the younger generation. Therefore, there will be less people who work and are able to support the old population. This is a big issue and China is struggling tremendously with solving this topic.

The third speech on this afternoon were held by PH.D. Lu Yung-Pi under the topic “Social Enterprise and Young Entrepreneurship in Mainland China”. First, we analysed how the topics ‘social’ and ‘enterprise’ fits together: Instead of focusing only on financial rewards, Social Enterprises want to create some value for the society. Nevertheless, in China it is not as easy as in Switzerland to start your own social business. One point, for example, is that you must receive a certificate to show that you are allowed to collect founds. However, some successful founder were, for example, a reporter which invented a system to rent bikes (Mobike) or an architect which makes the life of the people in the Hutong districts more comfortable.

We learned the young entrepreneurs in China mix eastern and western styles: the way of working is done the western way but the way of thinking remains eastern way. This means that Chinese Entrepreneurs often copy the ideas and knowledge from the wester and adapt it to their needs.

Digital Solutions – Company Visit at ABB Robotics

By Josua Stierli

Today we had two more company visits around Shanghai. After a fantastic breakfast in our hotel, which is located directly in the centre of Shanghai, we travelled with the bus to ABB Robotics.

First Stephan Schaerer, Local Business Unit CFO at ABB Robotics China, gave us an overview of the company, the products of ABB Robotics and the different applications. The company is part of the ABB Group with its headquarter in Zurich. ABB was an early bird in the Chinese market and is now the market leader for robots in China. Furthermore, ABB has installed over 50’000 robots in China and more than 300’000 globally. The market in China is growing fast because salaries are rising and manual work is getting more and more expensive. The company provides a wide range of robots and robotic solutions to the industry. It manages a full portfolio from naked robots, peripheral equipment, module cells, software, to service and training. ABB is the world’s only robotics company to provide complete solutions for main production steps of car manufacturing. Around 80 per cent of the production at ABB Robotics in China is produced for the Chinese market and only around 20 per cent are distributed outside of China. Furthermore, the factory in Shanghai is the only one which produces the models for painting applications. And speaking of future steps of ABB, simplification, collaboration and digitalization will be the three main innovation fields for ABB Robotics.

The introduction was accompanied by a visit of the production lines of ABB in Shanghai. It was very impressive to see how these high-end machines were built in the factory. In our tour, we could see different models and sizes of robots and the production of YuMi, the world’s first truly collaborative robot. This new generation of robots enables new forms of manufacturing work. YuMi has two arms with several joints and its controller unit is directly integrated in the main case. Furthermore, YuMi can work together with another employee and enables therefore new working fields.

The visit of ABB Robotics was very interesting and a great opportunity to see how these machines are produced in Shanghai.

Visit the World’s Busiest Container Port with Kühne + Nagel

By Philippe Fluri

On Tuesday, on our bucket list was a visit to the subsidiary of Kühne + Nagel in China. After a presentation and an open-minded question and answer session at the Kühne + Nagel downtown office in Shanghai, we headed to the biggest port of the world.

The presentation at the downtown office was leaded by Michael Fromm and assisted by two trainees, namely William Wolleswinkel and Hector Chavez. Mr Fromm showed us an overall view of the German and Swiss company ‘Kühne + Nagel’ as well as a closer view on the Chinese business. Kühne + Nagel has over 50 years of Asia-Pacific experience. Alone in China, the firm operates a network of over 40 offices, 3000 logistics specialists, and is the first global logistics provider to be awarded a Class A Forward’s Licence in 2004 by the Shanghai Ministry of Commerce. In a next step, the two trainees William and Hector gave us a deeper insight the of the management trainee program at Kühne + Nagel and talked about living in Shanghai. As an example, Wiliam showed us his contribution with method of the Giftcards in Kühne + Nagel offices to improve the employee confidence. Last part of the presentation was a Q&A session with the Kühne + Nagel professionals.

The second part of the Kühne + Nagel visit was the journey to the port of Shanghai which is the biggest port of the world. The port is island-liked located and connected with a 32 km bridge to bring most of the goods from the port to the distribution warehouses. We moved to the observation point in order to have an incredible look over the port and Micheal Fromm gave us some very interesting informations about the port and how it works.

Finally, we went to the warehouse of Kühne + Nagel near the port. We made a tour trough the big location. Mr Fromm showed us an App, which can identify every package with the important informations. He gave us also an deeper understanding how the distribution is managed.

Beautiful Shanghai

By Nena Ely Maillet

We started off our first morning in Shanghai with some free time. Because of the very early morning arrival of our flight, some of us decided to use that time to sleep in, and others took a nice swim in the pool of our hotel, Radisson Blu New World Shanghai.

After some much needed relaxation, the group met in the hotel lobby, and went to our first stop of our Shanghai city tour, The Bund. The Bund is the waterfront view overlooking the Shanghai skyline. Here, many tourists gather to take pictures and selfies with the beautiful skyline as their background. The group took many pictures together, and several Chinese tourists joined in for some photos.

After walking down the promenade at the Bund, the delegation headed over to a nearby shopping district where there are many Chinese food stands and souvenir shops. We walked past the shops and into the YuYuan Garden. The garden is home to many plants and small animals, and is a quiet and serene place. Many of the delegation members said the garden was a highlight for them from this trip to China.

After exploring through the YuYuan Garden, the delegation took the bus to the French Concession. Here, we were given some time to explore and walk through the area. The French Concession is a small set of streets in Shanghai that have a European design element to it. The streets are home to many popular restaurants, bars, and stores. The team was given some free time, so many of us went to have some drinks and ice cream together.

Soon, we all quickly realized it was time for dinner, so we headed over to our next location, Teppanyaki Taoshan. It is a Japanese restaurant located in another part of Shanghai. Here, we enjoyed all you can eat food consisting of different types of fish, sushi, rice, and various side dishes. The delegation enjoyed the traditional Japenese table setting and restaurant decorations. We all celebrated with a toast, and enjoyed the rest of our evening with jokes, laughter, and fun.

Ultimately, it was an exciting first day in Shanghai, and we look forward to having more time to explore the city during the week.