China - From pure market information to a complete production plant in 10 years!
It was in 2009 when we - the BU DRY - first heard about a government program of the P.R.China to commercially develop and expand the offshore wind industry to 30 GW. At that time SGB CR was already the leading supplier of cast resin transformers for the first commercial offshore wind farms in Europe to renowned OEM's, not least because of the in-house developed and worldwide patented Safe System solution, which made the operation of the transformer in an ambient air separated from the harsh, corrosive sea air possible in the long term. We already acquired references in the 5 and 6 MW turbine class, served the inquiries of European customers who wanted to develop this segment and supported them with the design and production of prototypes. At the same time, we observed global developments, came across the big plans in China and decided to get involved there. We visited local wind fairs and conferences, approached the Chinese turbine manufacturers there, who were unknown to us until then, and virtually kicked down open doors. We benefited from the fact that - unlike in Europe - it is quite common in China to be able to introduce yourself to the decision-makers immediately after the presentations. Back to the open doors: we were given appointments everywhere to present our company, our technology and our European references and to advise on local specifications.
Phase 1 - Business Development successfully completed!
We were soon made aware that for the next step - the prototype phase - a permanent presence in China was essential. We listened and decided to establish a representative office in Beijing, to fill it with one employee and implemented this in 2011. Chinese customers rewarded our technological support and the step of a presence in the same time zone and culture and we delivered numerous prototypes to the then "Who is who" of Chinese turbine manufacturers.
Phase 2 - Establishment of a first presence successfully completed!
The first prototypes were delivered and put into operation, the specifications were adapted to the real conditions, the market of turbine manufacturers began to consolidate and the governmental framework for feed-in tariffs was established.
As a result, the start of the pilot series phase was marked. In order to participate in this phase, we were requested to engage also in a local production, and we found the solution to this as well and founded a trade organization in 2016. This enabled our Chinese customers to conclude contracts with our Chinese organization for the first time. On the other hand, we outsourced housing production, core procurement, final assembly and testing to two Chinese service providers and organized large parts of procurement, especially cores and housings, locally. Engineering and coil deliveries continued to be made from Regensburg.
Phase 3 - Partial localization successfully completed
In parallel, business plans were prepared for the final phase, an own factory with full production, in order to be able to activate this last step in case a certain volume of incoming orders is exceeded. Our customers quickly followed suit and in April 2019 the inauguration of SGB China's own manufacturing facility for Wind On- and Offshore Cast Resin Transformers at the Changzhou site in Jiangsu Province took place. To keep closest contact to the customers our sales organization is located with their own offices in Yancheng which is one of the most important regions of the wind offshore industry.
Phase 4 - A market information has grown into a successful full production
SGB China has already been able to contribute sales in the double-digit m€ range in its first year of foundation and was operating profitably.
In summary, here are the main reasons for this success story:
- Transformer Specialist (advanced, unique and proven technology)
- Flexibility in all dimensions (multi- tasking on international level)
- Reliability (constant support and consultancy of our customers for years)
- Hands on (finding a solution for every request)
- Commitment to quality (essential for offshore applications)
- Rooted (in the sense of believing in the project for ten years)
- Independent (allowing to be relatively fast in taking the decisions for each single step)
In this case, one can truly speak of the highest level of customer dedication with an exclusive focus not only on transformers, but on transformers for absolutely special applications, which cannot easily be manufactured by others even in China. This is exactly the way we want to continue to serve the onshore and offshore wind markets and now also other industrial applications.