Jinan-Tai’an to Beijing (375 miles)

After leaving Jinan, we traveled to Tai’an to visit a customer specializing in labeling machines. Mr. Ji, who founded the company about 15 years ago, is one of our newer customers.

Mr. Ji was searching for ways to improve the quality of his machines, as he is trying to sell more abroad. One main disadvantage of his machines before finding igus was that they had to be lubricated regularly. One day, he decided to substitute some of the metal bearings he was using with our iglide J bearings.

As all our bearings are self-lubricating, he was easily able to end his lubrication and maintenance problems! While we were speaking, he mentioned that he was surprised with the long lifetime of our products. He also said that there was an unexpected side effect of switching to iglide, with the special plastic bearings he was able to reduce the noise of his machines.

igus was truly able to help Mr. Ji improve the quality of his machines. Currently he is looking into swapping out more metal bearings with iglide.

Tai’an is quite well known because of a nearby mountain that is said to be sacred.

The Tai Shan Mountain is one of the 5 sacred mountains of Daoismus. At just under 5100 feet, it is not an extraordinarily high mountain, but in ancient China it was considered to be the tallest in the world. Anyways, the mountain has been a place of worship for more than 3000 years, and is therefore quite famous. What does the most famous mountain in the most crowded country get? Lots of visitors.

There are two ways you can climb the mountain: by stairs, or by lift. Of course, taking the stairs (there are more than 6000!) would have taken a long time, and as we only had a half day to explore, we decided on the lift. Since I wasn’t able to take the car up the mountain, I took the dry-tech bearings box with me instead!

On the mountain itself, besides a lot of tourists, you get a stunning view and come across a nice temple.

 

One thing I have really become fond of on my trip so far is the food.  Traditional Chinese food is light, tasty, and diverse. They eat lots of vegetables, chicken, and soups, but also some stranger things. For me, to adapt to new cultures and countires means to break some of my regular habits. While there was one dish I wasn’t willing to try, I did try some insects. In the Northern part of Chine, people eat them quite a lot. I’m not sure what I ate exactly, but it wasn’t bad. I was surprised at how crispy they were – and tasted like potato chips! I think I’d still prefer some real potato chips when watching a movie, but the insects weren’t too bad.

Food really seems to be something that customer visits pivot on in China. Most companies have their own on-site restaurant, and usually after spending some time with a customer, they’d invite us for lunch. I don’t know why, but every customer offers me a beer. Maybe they just think Germans are drinking beer all the time! J

That’s all from me today, I’ll keep you posted.

Sascha

Qingdao to Jinan (250 miles)

Today I want to give you a closer look at the truck accompanying us during the Chinese leg of the tour.

I think the truck was a great idea on the part of the igus China team; it seems to be attracting a lot of people. Both the car and truck together draws a huge crowd. Basically, it’s just a normal truck that has been modified so it can be turned into a trade show booth in about 5 minutes! The truck is big enough that we can showcase a wide range of products.

For our customers, we offer the “whole package.” On the truck, not only can someone have a direct look at our products, but also have time to talk one-on-one with product experts.

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Every day, dozens of potential customers are giving us their contact details in order to learn more about our products, as well as receive the now famous igus cups as a reward!

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Usually, after visiting the booth, the visitors turn their attention to the iglide on tour project. For everyone, we offer a quick drive in the car. Most people think the tour is a great idea, but often add that it must be a real adventure to drive this particular kind of car across all the places we’ll encounter on the tour.

Two days ago, we arrived at the Yellow Sea on the coast of Qingdao. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of this city before, but I learned it is a famous beach vacation mecca for Chinese and other Asian tourists. I can tell that this city is growing fast; all around is construction.

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The city has a very nice beach. I imagine that it must get totally overcrowded here in the summer months. Even though it is winter, the beach is still filled with People.

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In Qingdao, we met with one of our suppliers who delivers goods to us for our exhibitions; guess what his name is and where he’s from?!

Sascha Kurtenbach was born in Cologne, but has been living in China for about 10 years. Although he speaks the language fluently, he explained to me that he only know about 3,500 written symbols, which isn’t enough for him to read a local newspaper. He told me most Chinese people know about 5,000 symbols, and someone like a university professor would know about 10,000. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to learn this language; so far everything sounds the same to me.

In my last post I told you I wanted to introduce you to the people helping us along our world tour. As the truck was in focus today, I’ll let you meet its driver, Mr. Wang.

Mr. Wang is 35 years old and a father of two children. He is from Henan province, where we will be traveling soon to visit a famous temple. Even though he has been working as a driver for more than a decade, Mr. Wang says he’s never seen a truck like ours. I asked my colleague to ask his opinion about the tour and the truck. Mr. Wang said it is special to be a part of a project like this one, where he gets to do more than just driving. When the truck has been transformed into the display booth, he helps us hand out information and talks with customers, guiding them to the right person to answer their questions. A great member of our team!

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That’s all from Eastern China so far, I’ll keep you up to date!

-Sascha

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Currently, we are in Bangalore, where the igus India offices are located. We drove straight through from Pune to Bangalore, which took us a total of 17 hours, our longest leg of the trip so far

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka, and is the third largest city in the country, after New Delhi and Mumbai. Although its further South than Pune, it’s a little cooler here in Bangalore (not cool enough that I didn’t get a sunburn!). Since we arrived later than planned at our hotel on a Friday, we kept things slow with our customer visits. One of those we visited was Dynaspede.

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Dynaspede manufactures electro-mechanical components, as well as custom machines. Just tell them what kind of machine you need, and they can build it for you. We had the opportunity to get an inside look at one of their machines, an engine tester for a major Indian Auto manufacturer.

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The machine needs to be able to fix, and therefore move, the engine. For this, the engine is mounted on four shafts embedded in beadings. At this time, Dynaspede regularly had problems with scoring on the shafts. Scoring is surface damage produced by the movement of the shaft of the bearing. To reduce the problem, the shaft had to be regularly lubricated and even hardened.

In order to eliminate these inconveniences, Dynaspede changed their traditional bearings for a DryLin R-FJUM 001-30 flange bearing, which, like all our products, is self-lubricating and maintenance –free, resolving the scoring problem for the engine test machine.

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Inside the testing station, there is a shaft to put on the gear-shifter of the engine. The shaft is then able to shift the engines gears throughout the test. Through this, they are able to measure the engine’s performance. The shaft is guided by iglide J, which has a low wear and a low friction coefficient.

We could also see our Energy Chain on the machine, they are used to guide and protect the machine’s moving cables; most of Dynaspede’s machines are equipped with them.

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The last few days have been all about driving and visiting customers. We made it more than 600 miles and have visited about 25-30 our our awesome customers. Yesterday, I checked our mileage gauge for the whole trip – 2485 miles!! –  and another 400 or so tomorrow as we travel on to Chennai, the automobile hub of India.

Today I have no exciting trips through the jungle or across the desert. Just highways that seemed to be in pretty good shape. I can’t even tell you about Bangalore, I haven’t had time to explore it – it seems to be a very nice, modern city as far as I can tell, however.

Next time I’ll tell you more about our travels. We’ll have some time to explore Chennai a bit and show you some of the highlights.

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Daman to Bombay To Pune

Traveling between customers, from the desert near Pushkar to the seashore at Daman, we’ve already made it more than 1,000 miles north to south. I’m seeing that every 60 miles or so we travel further south, the food changes. Actually, I usually don’t know what I’m eating these days, to be honest. I don’t mind as long as I can see my colleagues are willing to eat it, and as long as its tasty – and it always is! There is such a huge variety in food that I’m wasting something new each day.

Along with the food, the language also changes every few hundred miles. Its’ not just the accents – my colleagues from Delhi aren’t able to understand the locals a little more than a hundred miles away. The climate and surroundings are changing as well – driving South we saw the desert slowly turn green, with palm trees sprouting up more and more the further we traveled; everything around us became a green, tropical environment.

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Right now, I’m on the way to a customer visit in Pune. Pune is the automotive hub of India, as well as one of the main educational areas. The University of Pune alone has 811 colleges across India – 811(!!), at least according to the Times of India. If you’d rather get your information from Wikipedia, we’re talking almost 500,000 students. Comparatively speaking, Germany as a whole had 2,500,000 students in 2012/13. In particular, Pune is renowned for engineering, which is working hand in hand with the major automobile manufacturers in the area like Mercedes, Tata, Volkswagen, and more. Mercedes, if you’re reading this, I think you should manufacture and sell our car! So many people have asked us about the price and told us they’d like to buy it that I’m thinking we’re kind of trendsetters and soon everyone will have a small orange car!

Ok, now only the last few days. On our Ahmedabad route we traveled to our customer PWS.  The company has been around for 100 years, and is a mid-size company, with about 100 employees, but they lead the Indian market in the manufacturing of filling machines for things like juice and packaged food. We found them outside the city a ways, the factory and office together in a very old building next to a fancy five-star wellness resort. At first glance you’d never expect a high tech company be hiding there.

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As the company is working in the food industry, they require products that are corrosion-free to operate safely. Of course, in this industry, machines need to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, requiring a need for chemical resistance as well.

igus supplied PWS with a lubrication free, corrosion free plastic liner in a stainless steel housing that they use for linear movements. Our plastic liner has fulfilled PWS’s requirements of being corrosion free and resistant to chemicals, and additionally, they’re easy to assemble, and maintenance-free. The liners enable the filling machines to have a smooth up-and-down motion for putting lids on containers.

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After our customer visit, we jumped on the highway and headed for Daman. It total, the journey was only about 250 miles, but it took AGES. We were stuck in a traffic jam, so we were very late to arrive at the coast. For me, this was a big step on our tour. This was an informal reminder that we’ve made it to the half-way point in our trip through India – the first leg of the world tour.

The next day was Sunday, which means no customer visits. I wanted to spend the day getting some nice photos of the iglide car, so we went to the beach and split up to find a good spot to shoot.

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When I got back to the group, it was a strange scene. One of the backup drivers had the glorious idea to park his vehicle (a very big one, let me mention), not on the street, but ON THE SAND. How do you get a multi-ton car out of the sand? Well, only with a group effort.

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Eventually, after several tries, we got it free. We were able to get the car back on the road to continue the journey, next stop Bombay!

The trip to Bombay was awesome. The whole journey was through stunning landscapes. A modern highway leads you through a mix of desert and jungle, with mountains on one side and traditional villages on the other. Just amazing.

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I was bummed we didn’t have more time in Bombay. We arrived late at night, and had to leave for Pune the following day, so I had no time to explore the city, which we all know from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. The glance I got, the city seemed to be a booming metropolis, with very modern looking buildings and skyscrapers, construction on every corner. I learned after we left that Bombay is the financial hub of India.

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I’m in Pune now as I write this. Tomorrow we’re driving back to Bangalore (500 miles), which will wind down our Indian tour. From there, the just have a few more visits.

As usual, I’ll keep you up to date.

Sascha

Let’s go south! Jaipur to Ahmmedabad

iglide in the desert, and a visit to a manus winner are my topics for the day! Let me first introduce you to one of our local customers in Ahmedabad.  With 5 million citizens, Ahmedabad is the largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat, which is, by the way, the only state in India where alcohol is strictly forbidden by law.  Anyways, on a small street in bustling Ahmedabad is the EEWA Engineering factory, a traditional family company, and one of our customers.

Let’s go south! Jaipur to Ahmmedabad

EEWA Engineering was founded in 1947 and employs about 20 people. The company specializes in custom machines, mostly for sealing and packaging, which are sold worldwide. EEWA has been purchasing igus parts for decades, but became our regular customer only about 2 years ago.

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A few years back, The CEO of EEWA, Mr. Prakash, asked igus India for technical support for one of his machines, which was too heavy as it was. On the first visit, an igus sales manages spent nearly half a day at the factory, advising and supporting Mr. Prakash, who was able to lower the weight of the machine using igus plastic components. Mr. Prakash was so happy with the support he received from igus that since that first visit, he has become a regular customer.

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On the recommendation of an igus sales manager, EEWA participated in the igus manus program in 2013, which awards innovative applications for iglide plastic bearings. EEWA entered the competition with a hot-stamping machine that utilizes a DryLin SLW linear slide, , as well as DryLin W and DryLin N systems.  The DryLin W, which moves the stamp in the machine moves vertically about 30 times each minute.

The products that the machine need to stamp vary in size, so the application must be flexible. The SLW system ensures that the height of the stamp can be easily adjusted.

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Additionally, DryLin N ensures the handling of the base plates. According to the size of the product, as well as where the stamp is to be placed, everything must be in the right position. DryLin N enables the adjustment of the base plates on both the X and Y axes.

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In the stamping process, the igus products are coming into contact with chemicals. Because of this, Mr. Prakash required a product not only light in weight, but also with chemical resistance, making DryLin a perfect fit. All in all, he has equipped more than 20 machines with igus products so far, and my impression is that many more will follow suit. He’s so fond of igus that he’s even suggested we extend our business!

If you are reading this, Mr. Prakash, I’d like to thank you again for your hospitality, the delicious tea, and the encouragement you gave me during our interviews.

Now, moving back a few hundred miles, let’s leave green Ahmedabad with its parks and shopping malls and other reminders of modern society and go to rural India; Pushkar to be exact. Let’s explore the foothills of the Indian desert!

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Our car sped along the dusty, sandy slopes, and our car and the iglide products inside made it through without a problem.  They made it through better than I did, that’s for sure.  I forgot the sunscreen!  It wasn’t a pretty sight, me, the pale European from rainy Germany in a desert without sunscreen!

It was really interesting to see our surroundings change as we traveled. Camels began to appear alongside cars and trucks, the greenery starting disappearing, until eventually we were surrounded by the desert. We also saw monkey as I’ve never seen them before. Really, there’s not much more I can describe, its best to let the photos speak for themselves.

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I’m writing this post on our way to Daman, located in the coast a little more than 90 miles North of Bombay, We’ve combined this trip with visiting our amazing customers, so on the way we left one of our escort vehicles behind. The driver forgot to get gas, and is now stranded somewhere on the highway! I’m getting the feeling this is going to be a long day…

Don’t worry; I’ll keep you guys up to date!

-Sascha

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