4 Aug 2008
Sewing Up Success(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 08,2008)
PFAFF Industrial Hong Kong Co Ltd
About how best to stitch up success, Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong Co Ltd has firm ideas - it focuses not only on selling industrial sewing machines, but also on making sure they work to perfection.
"Our goal is to succeed by helping users of our Pfaff-brand sewing machines to thrive," says General Manager Monita Yuen. "We provide quality machines and then help our customers use them to earn more money."
The company assists its clients to streamline, adjust and improve factory procedures to best use the machines, lift efficiency and cut costs.
"We're always ready with spare parts to avoid slowing their manufacturing processes. We want them to be able to work without interruptions or needless idle time and costs," Ms Yuen explains.
If a client happens to use several machines for different steps, she adds, the supplier may even be able to design a single machine for the whole process.
Established in 1981, Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong is the Asia-Pacific sales and service arm for German group Pfaff Industrie Maschinen AG, based in Kaiserslautern, which dates back to 1862 when instrument maker Georg Michael Pfaff began a sewing-machine factory.
The Hong Kong firm's customers are factories for clothing, lingerie, shoes or auto upholstery from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, the Chinese mainland, Macau and Taiwan.
"We've made the Pfaff brand well known in Asia for its high technology and the quality of the textile and leather products the machines produce," Ms Yuen claims.
On the mainland, Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong excels at selling its machines, especially to factories for jeans, high-quality shirts, trousers, suits and leather shoes. To facilitate work there, it runs a Shenzhen subsidiary, the three-year-old Pfaff Industrial (Shenzhen) Co Ltd.
In 2007, the German parent opened a sewing-machine factory in the mainland town of Taicang, near Shanghai, which produces machines that rival their German counterparts but with lower prices and quicker delivery across Asia-Pacific - just 4-6 weeks.
"Our China factory uses the same quality-assurance process," says Ms Yuen. "We assigned engineers from the German factory to Taicang."
There is already talk of expanding the mainland factory because of increased business. "We're now more competitive on price, and our delivery times are much shorter. So we have a bigger market share," maintains Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong's Sales Manager W.K. Poon.
Of the parent group's 2,000 staff worldwide, 1,000 are employed in China, and Ms Yuen notes that the group's German research team plays a vital role in ensuring high performance of products.
"Our sewing machines are high quality and very durable," she claims. "They have at least a one-year warranty and usually last 10 years even if used 24 hours a day. Some of them last 35 years."
Most Pfaff machines, she adds, are retired not because they break down, but because the factories need updated models after the passage of time.
With a history of innovations, Pfaff Industrie takes pride in its latest models that "weld" materials by laser or ultrasound methods, part of a shift into "no-thread" sewing.
"There's a trend towards welding by an ultrasonic method," advises Mr Poon. "This diverse application works well for disposable, protective clothing, medical-sector covers or cloths, lingerie and outdoor garments."
Recently, Pfaff Industrie introduced a "new generation" of heavy-duty sewing machines known as Powerline. "These work well on car-seat upholstery and furniture, often leather," Ms Yuen explains. "They still use thread, but it's thick and heavy duty, too."
The manufacturer is no stranger to awards, with the latest being the "best of the best" honour garnered by its new upholstery sewing machine at Interzum Germany in 2007.
Its Pfaff 3307 button-sewer made headlines in 2003, after a string of earlier successes including a servo-stop-motor launched in 1995, a programmable automatic contour stitcher rolled out in 1973, an automatic jeans-pocket setter developed in 1968, and the first machine with a thread trimmer invented in 1960.
The group sees Cambodia and Russia as promising markets given their improving economies, and is prepared to keep fine-tuning its machines to the needs of the new technology era.
"Even garments and shoes may go high-tech, perhaps with global-positioning-system devices stitched in or special functions to perform medical checks," Mr Poon reckons.
"We will update our machines accordingly," he adds. "When the industrial changes settle down, we'll achieve even greater success with new machines."
With its ultra-modern technology, dedicated employees and "the right feel" for developments and trends, Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong is a cut above the rest and looks set to have further success sealed.
TEXT BY JOHN CAIRNS
Pfaff Industrial Hong Kong Co Ltd