China Factory Visit – Buyer Diary #6 Production Process (Part 1)

We asked one of our clients to give us their impressions during a China factory visit during a buying mission recently. Read below to get an idea of how they felt during this trip. This is one of a series of blogs that we will title: Buyer Diary.

This is probably one of my favorite entries throughout the entire buyer’s diary. Before embarking on the China factory visit, my expectation of the factory was like an automated system, whereby we just throw the goods into the machine. And after the entire process, the end product comes out just right.

Just like the Coca Cola factories –

Automated Machinery

Automated Machinery

Unexpectedly, it’s not the case when I first went to the factory with ODM’s staff – Patrick.

China Factory Visit

China Factory Visit

It’s a production line with much more complications.  You’ll be surprised that 70% of the work is done manually. Now, let me bring you through the entire production process to manufacture a plastic toy.

Moulding

First, the factory purchases all the materials required and it starts with molding.  The PVC plastic is the main material required to manufacture the plastic toys – as you can see on the right of the photo.

China Factory Visit - Material Making

China Factory Visit – Material Making

 

Together with other liquid substances, the PVC plastic is poured into the machinery. After which the PVC plastic develops to liquid form and is ready to be molded.

 

China Factory Visit - Material

China Factory Visit – Material

As explained in China Factory Visit – Buyer Diary #5 Production Terms: What is molding? Molding basically means producing the shape of your product.
Usually, the first step of every product is the molding stage –

China Factory Visit - Molding

China Factory Visit – Molding

 

Take a look at the 8 holes that the factory worker is focused on during my China factory visit. Those are the molds required to make the toy. So liquid plastic is poured into the mold and after the high temperature processing, the toys have been molded into the required shape! This requires extreme high heat and is generated by both charcoal and electricity.

 

Press play and check it out!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZh7VfxBmcw]

Trimming

The molding is not complete without trimming off the extra pieces of plastic popping out from the sides. An average factory worker is able to trim approximate 3,000 pieces every day. I once met a lady, whom had no experience. To my surprise, her productivity rate was at 10,000 pieces every day! That’s 833 in an hour and 13 every minute! That’s an average of 1 toy per 4 seconds! When you have such efficient factory workers, the factory can definitely save a lot on manpower.

 

China Factory Visit - Trimming

China Factory Visit – Trimming

Check out the difference!

Before & After

Before & After

 

Baking

Next up, we have the baking! Like cupcakes, we put it into the oven for baking so it gets into shape! Same for these plastic toys.

 

China Factory Visit - Oven

China Factory Visit – Oven

 

Similarly, the baker would have to confirm that these toys are well baked before proceeding on to the next step. Otherwise, we simply put the plastic toy back into the oven! On the average, 7,000 plastic toys can be baked per day! Of course, it depends on the size and thickness of the toy.

China Factory Visit - Baking

China Factory Visit – Baking

 

Spray-on Paint

After baking, the plastic toy is ready to be ‘clothed’! Likewise, after baking, it’s time to put some icing onto the cake! We first start with the spray-on paint. This step requires a professional to execute, same for molding. Not everyone can do this, I’m sure.

China Factory Visit - Spray on Paint

China Factory Visit – Spray on Paint

 

The master is with his apparatus filled with yellow ink to be sprayed onto the toy. Well, this gadget works like the air-brush tattoo machine. To increase efficiency, one person is in charge of one color and therefore forming the production line. The toys are then passed down from one to the other until all colors are sprayed onto it.

 

China Factory Visit - Spray on Paint Line

China Factory Visit – Spray on Paint Line

Initial Cleaning

After the spray-on paint, the toys in process of manufacture tend to get dirty. One important lesson in manufacturing is to correct the mistakes right away upon realization without having for it to continue to the next step.  Therefore, we have the initial cleaning step that achieves 2 purposes –

  • Clean away all the dirty marks and spots
  • Lubricate and brighten the toy

Such cleaning can only be done with specific liquid – one to clean dirty marks and the other to lubricate.

 

China Factory Visit - Initial Cleaning

China Factory Visit – Initial Cleaning

 

This marks an end of the first half of the production process! As you can tell, production processes are not as simple as it seems. At times, it could be as easy as throwing the material into the machine and all you need is workers to operate the machines. Whereas others have many complicated steps just to manufacture a plastic toy, like what we’ve covered today.

We shall continue with the next half of the production process for the next buyer diary entry, stay tuned!

2018-03-02T15:17:08+00:00