A major trend over the past 5 years in the China manufacturing sector has been the relocation of activities from the coastal areas to inland provinces. From Guangdong to Hunan, from Zhejiang to Anhui, and so forth.
What are the special implications when it comes to Recruitment in New Factories?
5 key questions when transferring production to a new factory in an inland province in China
- Are you going to serve the same general customer needs? If, for example, you are going to produce high-mix and low-volume orders, but until now you were working on low-mix and high-volume, deep changes will be needed. Which brings to the next question…
- Does it make sense to apply the same systems and same processes in the new plant?
- Can you hire some workers and local leaders in advance in your current facility, for easy transplant into the new factory? This will help immensely in the transfer of knowledge. You may also want to see this info graphic.
- Can you start training the workers before the new factory starts working on mass production? If you go straight into high volumes and there is a lot of “trial and error” happening, it will cause massive cost overruns and delays.
- Will the sales, design, engineering, purchasing, quality, and planning functions be present in the new location? If not, how will you ensure good communication with the manufacturing people, who will need a lot of daily support? Who will drive process improvements? [link to https://qualityinspection.org/process-improvement-tool]
Think about the model you want to follow, before hiring the operators
We have seen many companies follow 1 approach with the first production facility, and then copy and paste it when they set up their second facility.
They should take a step back and ask themselves, is that the best approach?
Let’s review the most common alternatives:
- Hire migrant workers, rent dormitories, organize everything around long hours and hard work (often with a pay-by-piece scheme). Turnover is relatively high.
- Hire workers from the general area, give them certain weekends completely off so that they can go back home. The workers will project themselves as working for you in the long run more easily.
- Hire a majority of very local staff, maintain no dormitory. People will be more likely to come to work with a smile!
If your current factory is in a coastal area and your new one is in an inland province, you might be better off changing your recruiting target.
As often for complex projects, good planning is as important as good execution. Recruitment in new factories in China is critical.
This is also a matter of making the right calls. You have learned many lessons in operating your current factory. Don’t forget them. And, at the same time, don’t be a prisoner of your past.
This post was written by Renaud Anjoran, who has been working in the Chinese manufacturing world since 2005. He writes on qualityinspection.org.