From the Far East to the North West

Ivan Ji is the Factory Manager of Bellis Technology China (BTC), our manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China and has been with the company for the past 9 years. Ivan recently visited us at Innovative Technology (ITL), our head office in Oldham and blogged about his time spent in the UK.

In mid-November, I, together with my BTC colleagues Alex Zhou (Production Manager) and Frank Xiong (Logistics Manager) visited the Oldham head office to receive training on a number of new products that are about to enter production in China. We arrived at Manchester Airport on Saturday 8th November after a 13 hour flight from Hong Kong. We managed to get a good night’s sleep and were ready to venture out and enjoy the sights of Manchester on Sunday. We visited the Anderton boat lift in Cheshire and it was interesting to learn about Manchester’s industrial history and the significance of the canal system to the cotton trade.

We usually travel to the head office twice a year to remain up to date with new products before they begin production. Although this was our second visit to HQ since the opening of the new building, we were still impressed by the standard of the offices and it was an absolute pleasure to spend time there. Outside of the office, the three of us found Oldham very quiet in comparison to Shenzhen. The area is much less densely populated and contains far fewer large industrial buildings that we are used to. Even though we were busy working during the week, we made sure to enjoy the relative peace and quiet whilst we were in Oldham.

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Our BTC colleagues on the shop floor

BTC is based in the city of Shenzhen, one of the largest cities in China’s Guangdong province and has been in operation since 2009. Our factory is responsible for manufacturing the majority of ITL’s products, which are then shipped to customers across the world. Due to the significant role that BTC plays in the organisation’s operations as a whole, it is vital that key members of the China office visit our Oldham head office regularly to remain up to date with our product range. It’s really important to get up to speed with the product specifications whilst we are here and utilise the time to speak to any members of staff who we don’t get to speak to often, such as the Development team. We speak to the UK Quality Assurance team a few times each week through video conferencing software but it’s always nice to talk to people face to face rather than through the TV screen.

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Ivan, Frank and Alex during a Development meeting

I always enjoy coming to the Oldham office as the working environment is much different than what we are used to back in China. Since BTC’s function is to focus on production, there is a need for the factory to be strict and regimented in the way that it operates. The UK headquarters is a hub of research and design so such a rigid approach is not required and I enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere.

During the week, we were invited to visit Manchester’s Chinatown district. It was quite impressive how that area of the city feels completely different to everywhere else and how well it manages to capture the essence of Chinese culture. We sampled a variety of dishes, some that we could get back in China and some that were entirely new to us. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food but we all agreed that the UK dishes were much sweeter than their Chinese equivalents. I’ve been told that British people really like the sweetness in Chinese food but some of the dishes were sweet enough to be a dessert!

After a busy week, we flew back to Hong Kong on Sunday. The return flight always seems much quicker than the flight out as it only lasts 11 hours – still a long time to spend cooped up on a plane though! We’ve already began to apply the knowledge that we picked up during our time in Oldham and we’re looking forward to our next trip, although at this moment in time I’m very happy to spend a few months at home and not on a plane!

Learn more about Ivan in his ‘Meet the Team’ profile here