MK Lo, manager of Interroll in Shenzhen, China.
MK Lo, manager of Interroll in Shenzhen, China.

If you think Interroll is soley Swiss technology company, you only know half the story. Alongside European and American expertise, Asian competence centers have long been an integral component of the Ticino-based group. I spoke with MK Lo, manager of Interroll in Shenzhen, China, about global knowledge transfer and the commitment to continuously improve.

How long have your operations in Shenzhen been part of Interroll?

We joined Interroll as a result of the acquisition of Portec, the formerly US-based producer of belt curves. Until 2014, we were an independent partner for licensed commissioned production of these curves in Asia. Since then, we have been producing as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Interroll and a regional competence center for the Interroll Belt Curve in the Asia-Pacific region. Here, we have long-term, trust-based business relationships, for instance, with parcel services like China Post EMS, SF Express and Best Express. Our solutions are also used in baggage handling systems at major airports in a number of cities such as Beijing, Shanghai Pudong, Guangzhou, Xi'an and Tianjin.

“Interroll’s culture was a good fit for our company" 

How did you successfully manage your integration into the Interroll Group?

Naturally, every acquisition initially generates a certain amount of uncertainty within the company. People ask themselves which partner they will be dealing with in the future and which strategy should be followed. We managed to keep this unavoidable period of uncertainty in 2014 very brief through clear communications and the trust-based relationship that has existed between the employees and myself for many years. I have been working in the conveyor technology industry since 1984. Most of the employees have been loyal to the company for years – and that is not common in China. They have faith in my decisions because they have been part of our past success and because they know me personally very well. In addition, Interroll’s culture was simply a good fit for our company.

What exactly do you mean by that?

We want to learn, develop and continuously improve. In that respect, Interroll’s strategy of investing in product and process quality and ongoing employee training was a perfect match for us. We were able to quickly adapt our processes to Interroll’s extremely high, globally applicable production standards. At the same time, we have significantly increased the proportion of local deliveries and invested in modern technologies such as a laser-cutting machine. As a result, we not only provide top quality and short delivery times, but have also been able to increase our productivity by more than 100 percent with the same number of employees. As a regional competence center, we are now a central part of the international Interroll competence pool.

Genuine cooperation at eye level

So you work closely with your American and European colleagues?

Yes, we are engaged in a close dialogue with our American colleagues and the engineers in Europe who launched their own curve production in the last few months. I am pleased that this exchange of experience and knowledge is not a one-way street, but a genuine cooperation at eye level. At Interroll, everybody benefits from the others’ strengths and perspectives. In this way, we maintain a continuous improvement process that benefits our customers across the entire globe.

Why is the Interroll Belt Curve so successful?

There are various reasons for our leading market position. The most important of these is surely the unparalleled reliability and design-based robustness that our solution provides. Because of the positive drive technology, our curve can also be operated under full load in higher and lower temperature ranges. In addition, the belt can be replaced quickly and easily if required, meaning long operational interruptions are avoided. None of our competitors provide these advantages. What’s more, our customers value our expertise at local level and the high level of commitment in our customer services. At Interroll – be it in Asia, America or Europe – customers are not left alone with their questions and special requirements.

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China is an important strategic Interroll market, which the company has developed through concerted investment. As early as 2002, Interroll opened its first location in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Interroll inaugurated its new Asian head-quarters in Shanghai in 2014. In the same year, it acquired the company Pert Engineering in Shenzhen. Within the Interroll Group's decentralized structure, the local management team has made major contributions to the company’s strong growth in China. Today, the close collaboration between Interroll Shanghai and the two Centers of Excellence in Suzhou and Shenzhen ensures provision of outstanding products and services for customers all across Asia.

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