Honeywell Suzhou: A Lesson in Innovation for Industry Solutions

Zhao proudly shares how his plant, the Honeywell Suzhou plant to be precise, was recognized as a ‘Green Factory’ by the China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MITT) last year in 2018.

As Senior Plant Manager & Site Leader, Zhao should be proud indeed, because the Honeywell Suzhou plant has long been in the pursuit of ‘energy and environmental protection’ and the plant’s energy consumption is now only 10% of the industry average (according to Shanghai standards which are apparently the higher standard nationwide).

Founded in 1999, Honeywell Suzhou now houses 1,300 workers and manufactures Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS).

SPS is one of this Fortune 100 technology company’s four main Strategic Business Groups (SPGs) – the other three being Building Technologies, Performance Materials and Technologies (PMT), Aerospace. (Sidenote: In Malaysia, PMT for oil and gas, and Aerospace are Honeywell’s bigger focus. Incidentally, Honeywell’s largest Avionic’s plant in the WORLD is located in Penang with close to 900 workers).

In striving hard to be an exemplary global plant that is able to boast a highly integrated manufacturing, R&D and services center, Zhao shares that innovation is not just an evangelized concept, but a daily practiced process at the Suzhou factory.

“By adopting wholly the Honeywell Operating System (HOS) Gold methodology and process, we are seeing a 10% growth for this plant while maintaining the same number of employees at the production floor,” he says.

Innovation is also indeed alive and kicking with Zhao’s relentless deployment of employee programs and activities with his team. These cover all major aspects of site culture – such as reward programs, career mentoring and advancements, staff engagement and CSR activities, sharing sessions, and even an impressive ‘care station’ program.

The ‘care station’ is a designated area where Honeywell Suzhou provides food, drink and a rest area of neighboring workers passing by around the Honeywell Suzhou site. “The local authorities are impressed by our ‘care station’ idea and is propagating it to other factories as well – all in the effort to improve the well being of this high-tech industrial area,” shares Zhao.

Within the factory itself, the Honeywell Suzhou plant truly exhibits a world-class factory, being at about 30% robotics automated. Zhao says that the target is to reach 50%, but with no set timeline because ‘it is important to properly balance the cost impact on products, with robotic automation’.

Via a self-developed software, Honeywell Suzhou is able to achieve lean production management and highly efficient warehouse sorting efficiency.

Honeywell Suzhou is reflective of the company’s rapid growth in China.

Lydia Lu, VP, Communications, Asia High Growth Regions shares that by a rule of thumb, the growth target is 1.5 to 2% times of the country’s GDP growth. “So for example, if China’s GDP growth is 6%, then Honeywell China’s growth target should be between 9-12%,” she quips.

This is no wonder, since the company is clearly focused on implementing strategies such as “Becoming a Chinese competitor’, ‘East for East’, and ‘East to Rest’.

Lydia says, “The trick is to aligning (Honeywell)’s strategies with the Chinese Government’s Five-Year Plan (FYP) – whereby we are currently in the 13th FYP that focuses on consumption, innovation, environment and a Digital Economy.”

Today, Honeywell China makes USD3 Billion in sales, with over 11,000 employees, 2,500 scientists & engineers and over 1,500 patents issued.

“In Asia, China, India and ASEAN are amongst those identified as high growth countries, as Honeywell follows our ‘Follows the Growth’ strategy. Today, China is the single largest contributor to Honeywell’s growth,” says Lydia.

She also reports the completion of the Garrett and Resideo spin offs on 1October and 31December 2018 respectively.  “Although Honeywell shrunk from a USD40 Billion company to a USD35 Billion one, it is becoming obvious that this exercise positions all 3 companies for better future growth.”

As Zhao takes us the media around in a factory tour, we can see how the Honeywell Suzhou plant is certified with HOS world-class site in 2017.

It is obvious that this factory that produces barcode scanners, mobile devices, scanning engines, GPS and barcode printers, amongst many other items – is setting an excellence example in the lesson in innovation and sustainability for the high-technology industry.