Frequently Asked Questions
How easy is it to work with suppliers in the Far East?
People often say to us that they will get their parts made in the Far East – after all everyone says it's so much cheaper – and how difficult can it be?
Trust and mutual respect
We have extremely good working relationships with all our suppliers, and those in the Far East are no different. This has developed over numerous visits and many years of working together to establish trust and mutual respect.
If this is your first time and you are considering having parts made in the Far East, please be aware that to be successful and realise some of the apparent cost savings, takes an investment of both time and effort.
Chinese celebrations and factory shutdowns
For example everyone is aware of the Chinese New Year celebrations that can involve up to almost a months shutdown for some companies, but did you know, in China they also they have the Qingming Festival (or Tombsweeping day) where the Chinese people pay their respects to the dead in April; Labour Day holidays in May; the Dragon Boat Festival in June; Harvest Festival in September; National Day in October…. all of which involve additional shut down periods for many factories?
Today components travel the world constantly. Shipping components sea freight can take 6 – 8 weeks door to door, and whilst air freight is 3 – 5 days it is a lot more expensive. Both options involve customs and having the correct paperwork is essential to avoid goods being delayed for days or even weeks. Shipping in to China is more difficult than exporting and can involve additional duties on goods such as specialist plastics for mould trials.
Duties are payable, depending on the product code, on all goods entering the EU from China. Depending on the magnitude, courier companies like Fedex and DHL may require these settling upfront before they will release the goods.
It sounds ridiculous but remember in China they speak Chinese and in many different dialects! (On one trip to find a company, the taxi driver stopped to ask directions of another driver. After a few minutes, we drove off but it transpired later that rather than getting directions they had been unable to find a dialect that they both understood.) It is extremely humbling the way they take on English (against my virtually non existent Chinese) however sometimes the finer points can get lost in the translation. When you are talking finite details of design, you want to feel confident that the toolmaker has got it right and it may be worth having your own translator.
Culture and traditions
If you are thinking of travelling to China, there are certain levels of protocol that should not be taken lightly.
- Observe Face – This is construed as 'good reputation', 'respect' or 'honour,' and is taken very seriously in China.
- Chinese people are not usually keen on physical contact, especially when doing business so don’t expect, or give, a hearty handshake.
- It is usual to exchange business cards on initial meetings. Make sure one side of the card has been translated. The card is a representation of the person and should be treated with the same deference. So upon receiving a card (with both hands) study it before placing it in something of importance rather than in a wallet or pocket.
- Gifts are viewed with high importance in China but should only be given for a reason otherwise this may be construed differently.
There is roughly a 7/8 hour time difference between the UK and China which obviously inhibits direct communication throughout our working day – often an answer may need to be left until the following day. Not ideal if you are on a tight timescale.
The quality and commitment that our Far Eastern colleagues give us is second to none and we have no hesitation in using them to manufacture your parts. This is based on years of collaboration and not just picking a name from a list of Google search results!
So let Plunkett Associates take the risk out of your first venture – we have done the legwork and established the bonds, so you can relax and leave your project in safe hands. Trust us to deliver your parts on time and within budget. Now doesn’t that sound easier?!
Read more expert articles in our FAQ section where we discuss topics on materials, methods and products.
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