BEIJING – Robert Bosch’s new engineering center in China will validate components and materials made here for use around the world.
“We are not sourcing enough from China. It has to be more, and it has to be faster,” said Hans K. Hechtel, general manager of the Bosch Engineering Center in Suzhou, which is in eastern China.
Figures for how much Bosch sourced from China last year were not available.
The new center will be able to release products for global use from China, Hechtel said, speeding up the sourcing process.
The validation will be done at the Bosch China Central Purchasing Testing Lab, a sub-unit of the Suzhou engineering center. Equip-ment is being installed now; validation should begin in the fourth quarter of this year, Hechtel said.
Initially, the Suzhou center’s main task will be adapting existing Bosch products that will be produced in Suzhou for China. Bosch makes antilock brakes and electronic stability control systems there.
The adaptation mainly involves software changes, Hechtel said, but the center also can do the next step – actual road tests.
Not so simple
Having the ability to validate components in China is crucial because buying parts here is not as easy as going to a plant and placing an order.
It takes time – and lots of testing – for Chinese companies to bring their quality up to international standards.
“In China, you don’t talk about purchasing,” Hechtel said. “If you want to have a Chinese supplier, you have to go in there and do development. That is one of the reasons you have testing equipment here. You need one to three, four, five loops before you get it right.”
The Suzhou center also will develop components for the domestic market only.
“I don’t think in the mid-term it will develop for worldwide operations,” Hechtel said.
Bosch invested about E50 million to build the center, which it wholly owns. The center will have a staff of 200, including engineers.
Bosch’s first engineering center in China was built in 1997 in Shanghai and focuses on gasoline engine management systems.
Last year, Bosch opened an engineering center for diesel fuel-injection systems in Wuxi, a small city a few hours east of Shanghai.
Bosch has invested more than $600 million in China. It has 11 wholly owned manufacturing ventures and nine joint ventures, as well as 10 representative offices, five trading companies, and one trading representative office.
Its key automotive companies make safety products, diesel fuel-injection systems, spark plugs and electronic systems.