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Gear motor specialist Bauer opens new assembly factory in China

One of the longest established manufacturers of gear motors in the world, Bauer, has announced the opening of its first assembly plant in China. Contrary to moves by other companies, Bauer is not moving its core design and manufacturing to China and is not seeking a low-cost economy manufacturing base. It is simply providing local availability of its products for customers that have already made the move to manufacturing in China, in order to service the industrial growth in that region more efficiently.

Speaking from Bauer Headquarters in Esslingen, close to Stuttgart, Mr. Jens Gabel, Vice President Global Sales and R&D, comments:

“This is one of the powerful advantages of now being part of the Altra group of global power transmission companies. It has provided the opportunity for us to accelerate our growth plans and reduce delivery times with a large scale assembly and distribution hub in China; close to some of our core OEM customers who are taking advantage of the growth in the Chinese market.”

The intention in China is to produce products according to a ‘Global Bauer Standard’ for the local Chinese and possibly in future wider Asian market. Bauer is a global player, and the facility in China reduces costs for customers already manufacturing in China. Freight and administration costs, plus import duties add to the total purchase cost when products are being shipped over to China, but, can be reduced dramatically by operating a facility locally.

Bauer operates a high quality product strategy worldwide and this also applies to all gearbox components; bearings for example are only purchased from five approved bearing suppliers and these will remain. Localisation is going to be stepped up over time with items such as seals and lubricants being sourced locally, but only from approved suppliers. Components such as shafts and housings may also be manufactured locally, but only after approval by central engineering. This is essential for maintaining the brand values of high quality, premium performance and reliability.

“The growth opportunities in China are too large to ignore and it serves many of our global targets by expanding our operations in the region. We are acting to support our value chain by playing a crucial role in the value chain of our customers. Future growth may well come from new business that we find locally, but as an OEM supplier we are focused on supplying customised gear motor products to large scale machine builders rather than boxed, off-the-shelf units with little or no flexibility in the design; this is the proviso of other manufacturers.

“We made the commercial decision many years ago to accommodate niche industries with innovative products and provide a full design and build service to manufacturers looking for something special. With over 80 years experience making gear motors we are ideally placed to support today’s manufacturers of specialist machinery. Be it with compact packaging solutions, meeting harsh operating conditions, providing super high efficiency or indeed more unconventional performance criteria, we are able to bring our expertise to bear in order to find a solution.

International Marketing Manager for Bauer Gear Motors, Mr Phil Crowe, puts the move into context with the organisation and its goals.

“Because of the nature of our business profile, if our customers decide to move manufacturing or assembly operations to China, we must follow in order to maintain the high levels of localised service, support and availability they have come to appreciate in western European plants. The new facilities in Asia simply allow us to increase our scope and capacity without adding pressure on our EU manufacturing base.

“With the opening of our Chinese plant, and the global sales and engineering support of the wider Altra group behind us, the prospects for growth in the future are fantastic. The inclusion of Bauer into the Altra portfolio of clutches, brakes, couplings, linear actuators and specialist bearings means we are now able to provide customers with a completer power transmission solution where other manufacturers are only able to deliver part of the solution.

The industry sector expertise within the group extends to virtually every area of industry, from heavy duty mining and marine applications to power generation, utilities, packaging machinery and many other niche sector solutions. Market focus goes hand-in-hand with global strategic business areas (SBAs) including: basic Metal (raw material processing and metals production); cranes, hoists & lifts; and food & beverage, these are a focus for the business and the opportunities in Asia are significant.

Jens Gabel concludes, “Our primary target for the move to China is to make the total cost of purchasing our products competitive locally and ensure that our truly global supply and support network is complete, while reinforcing our high international quality standard. The overall prospects for Bauer both in our domestic market and abroad are looking extremely positive.”