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Dtech's rise mirrors Dongguan's manufacturing story

By LI WENFANG in Dongguan, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-22 10:09
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A view of Dongguan's new landmark — Binhaiwan Bridge, which connects the city downtown to Binhaiwan New District. [PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

Wang Xin moved to Dongguan, Guangdong province to work at a toy-making factory in 1989. However, by 1997, she had started trading in routers and drill bits.

Currently, Wang's company is the global leader in the manufacture of routers and drill bits, which are used in the production of printed circuit boards, and found in sectors including consumer electronics, communications and automobile electronics.

Guangdong Dtech Technology had a 26.5 percent share of the global PCB drill bit market in terms of volume, and 21.7 percent of the global PCB router market in terms of value last year, according to electronics industry consulting firm Prismark Partners.

Wang's story closely shadows that of Dongguan, which has become a global manufacturing hub and has kept moving up the value chain.

Wang set up a company to produce drill bits in her hometown Nanyang, in Henan province in 2005, and another in Dongguan in 2013.

In 2005, the finest drill bits Dtech could produce measured 0.5 millimeter in diameter, but now 0.03 mm ones are made on a massive scale as PCBs have become more compact to allow for slimmer end products. The company is capable of producing 0.01 mm drill bits, too.

In the beginning, due to hefty price tags and tight supply of imported equipment, Dtech was unable to source the equipment used for producing routers and drill bits.

However, it has since developed its own, starting with separate workstations instead of integrated equipment.

"As client demands became more sophisticated, we kept optimizing our equipment. We have evolved three or four generations," said Wang Junfeng, vice-president of the company, which now also sells router-making equipment.

Its diversified application scenarios and continuous efforts have allowed the company to constantly increase the efficiency of its equipment, said Li Zheng, manager of the R&D department.

"When a client says this movement can be sped up, we say 'OK' and our R&D people keep optimizing the equipment onsite," Li said.

Dtech spends about 7 percent of its revenue on research and development and its equipment unit spends about 11 percent of its revenue on innovation, he said.

It applies artificial intelligence technology in its quality control and packaging processes, as part of efforts aimed at higher automation.

More than 300 workers are engaged in R&D, with a provincial-level corporate technological center established in the company. Dtech has received more than 500 authorized patents.

Innovation is promoted with commission and stock option plans and employees are encouraged to upgrade their knowledge and skills, with allowances for those improving their academic degrees, Wang Xin said.

Wang said she sees promising opportunities in the auto parts, molds, 3C products (computer, communications and consumer electronics) and aerospace sectors.

Besides the facilities in Dongguan and Nanyang, Dtech also runs a plant in Thailand.

The company's unit, listed on Shenzhen's technology-heavy ChiNext board, reported 1.32 billion yuan ($182.43 million) in revenue last year and expects that to increase to 1.7 billion yuan this year.

Embracing the first processing trade plant in the Chinese mainland in 1978 after the country adopted reform and opening-up policies, Dongguan now accommodates an electronic information manufacturing cluster of more than 1 trillion yuan in output.

It also has an equipment manufacturing cluster of 500 billion yuan and three clusters of new materials, food and beverage, and textile and garments of more than 100 billion yuan each.

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