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From Huaqianbei to Nanjing: Insights from Smartex's Hardware Team

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

As the VP of Operations for Smartex, I had the pleasure of leading a team of four on a recent trip to China. Our group included Vânia Moreira, our sourcing engineer, Fernando Maia, our machine vision engineer, and Gil Almeida, our hardware quality & manufacturing project manager. While I had previously lived and worked in China, two of my team members had never been to the country before, and we were all eager to see how China was recovering post-pandemic.

Our trip took us to three different cities, each with its own unique character and attractions, making the journey an exciting and enriching experience. Shenzhen was our first stop, and it stood out to the newcomers for its reputation as a technological hub, with the Huaqianbei area being a world center for electronics. We had previously been based in the HAX office in Huaqianbei for over a year before the pandemic hit, so it was good to return and catch up with old friends.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the HAX, who provided us with an office space and all the support we needed during our stay. It was good to see that Smartex still had a presence in Shenzhen, and we were able to meet with suppliers, new prospects, old friends, and even had meals at some of the old stalls we used to go to every day while we were based there!

One of the highlights of our visit to Shenzhen was taking my team to the Huaqianbei electronics markets. The markets are a sprawling complex of buildings and streets that sell all manner of electronics components and finished goods. We were impressed by the scale and variety of products on offer, and spent hours browsing the different stalls and negotiating with the vendors which definitely reminded me of my very first time exploring the same stalls.

Our next stop was Chongqing, a city in the region that is known for its unique geography and culture. Did you know that it has a population of over 30 million people, making it the largest city in the world by population? Chongqing is also known for its spicy hotpot, which is a must-try for any foodie. We enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant streets and learning about its history and culture by the words of our suppliers which some of us had never met before in person.

Finally, we visited Nanjing, which is already very close to Shanghai and home to the temple of Confucius. The city has a rich history and is a great place to learn about Chinese culture and traditions. We visited several temples and museums, and we were impressed by the beauty and tranquillity of these ancient sites.

One of the primary reasons for our trip was to see first-hand China's manufacturing technology and knowledge, which remains relevant despite the global pandemic's impact. We were able to visit several factories and manufacturing facilities and were impressed by the scale and efficiency of Chinese manufacturing. We had the opportunity to speak with engineers, technicians, and factory managers, and we gained valuable insights into the manufacturing process and the level of expertise required to produce high-quality products.

Overall, it was essential to bring my colleagues to China to gain a better understanding of the technological mindset and background of the country. Our goal was to explore China's rapidly developing tech scene and understand how it intersects with our daily work with Chinese suppliers. With over three cities visited, we were able to immerse ourselves in the local culture, from Shenzhen's bustling technology scene to Nanjing's historical landmarks, and gain valuable insights into the Chinese way of manufacturing & life. Our trip was particularly important given the size of the country and the fact that even paying with cash is considered outdated in some places.

And yes, some of us did have to learn how to use chopsticks, but we found it to be an enjoyable challenge to try and pick up greasy peanuts from a bowl! We were all impressed with how well China is doing post-pandemic and how the country has managed to bounce back quickly. It was good to see the streets bustling with activity and people going about their daily lives, and it gave us hope that the world can recover from this pandemic and emerge stronger than before.

See you soon, China!

If you want to be part of our adventures & join our growing hardware team, apply here!


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