BRI_S + C: The Emerging Markets of Hardware

BRI_S + C: The Emerging Markets of Hardware

Over the last year we’ve built relationships with companies in Brazil, Russia (well, Ukraine, but close enough), India, and South Africa, while living in China - completing the BRICS countries. To me this has been a tangible sign of which parts of the world are actively developing hardware products and engaging in manufacturing. However, these partners have uniquely different needs from our US customers, more interested in the robustness and variety of component supply in China, rather than simply lower labor costs. The Rough Streets of Curitiba, Brazil Our BRICS customers have a couple common themes to their businesses. Often these hardware companies were begun in response to a specific domestic need, but then quickly expanded to become exporting themselves, whether to other countries in their region, or countries with a common linguistic and colonial past (India to Nigeria and Bangladesh, Brazil to Angola and Mozambique, Ukraine to the rest of the former USSR). They most often begin manufacturing domestically, often smaller...
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Crossing the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge

Crossing the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge

The Hong Kong - Zhuhai - Macau Bridge (HKZMB) opened to traffic last fall. The bridge has been under construction through my whole time in Shenzhen, but I had not yet been on it. So my girlfriend Elaine and I decided to use our weekend trip to have a mini-adventure and take a ride across the new bridge. Shenzhen to HKG SZ -> HKG Van. I let her ride in the front. First off, we had to get to the start of the bridge from Shenzhen. A little internet digging showed that we needed to go to the HKZMB Hong Kong Port Bus Terminal (really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it), which happens to be right next to the Hong Kong airport. I had seen signs at HKG for bus transport to Macau. Plus, there is transport from many points in Shenzhen direct to HKIA. Putting this all together, Elaine and I figured the airport was our first stop. With border crossings the ride...
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Chinese Hardware Expertise is Cheap. Sometimes Even Free.

Chinese Hardware Expertise is Cheap. Sometimes Even Free.

Costs are rising in China. $600 - $800 per month is now a standard wage for factory labor. This is twice the going wage in Vietnam, and similar to the minimum wage of Portugal. Salaries for engineers and other professionals also match those of other high-middle income countries. Rents in Shenzhen are similar to those of a medium-sized US city. However, something that remains affordable in China is the expertise of firms. Therefore, instead of looking to only leverage the labor and equipment of factories, we have been increasingly looking for projects that place a large emphasis on our partner’s knowledge and ability to innovate. Some examples: A previously developed robot gave us confidence this factory could deliver We partnered with a Shantou toy factory to design and prototype a small robot. Total cost to our client for electrical + mechanical design work was $7.5K, vs.  a $100K quote from a US design firm. Initial prototype completed in two months. Now moving towards...
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New Year’s Ride through Empty Shenzhen

New Year’s Ride through Empty Shenzhen

Shenzhen empties out quickly for the Lunar New Year. With the city to myself, I decided to bike south until I ran out of land. Which turned out to be the Shekou Port. I feel pretty confident that I was the only American to ride through the world's third busiest port that day, at least in flip flops. Other photos from the ride included. This is a pretty great town. I originally posted these photos on my Instagram. Check it out! 新年快乐🐷! Gordon ...
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Thoughts on Vietnamese Manufacturing

Thoughts on Vietnamese Manufacturing

We have been making trips to Vietnam to explore the manufacturing environment south of the border. We have had the pleasure to make connections in Hanoi and Saigon and expand our team in-country. Below are thoughts on starting to do business in Vietnam. Vietnamese Die Casting of Korean Aluminum, Heading to Japan Prices Let’s start here. I had heard that prices in Vietnam were low, even lower than those in China. But never had any real info to back that up. Now with our first projects in Vietnam, we’re starting to get that data. Here are per piece quotes on the same die cast aluminum part, quantity 100,000 pieces: USA $0.68China $0.27Vietnam $0.13 With USA tooling costs at $40,000 and Vietnam tooling costs at $4000. The prices really are that good. A rule of thumb I heard was 40% savings over China - at least here, that more than holds. Old machines line Route 1A in Saigon. $2000 gets you whatever you want, if you can bargain. So....
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First Factory Visit in Vietnam – Video

First Factory Visit in Vietnam – Video

Our first factory visit in Vietnam! With continued pressure from the Trump Tariffs, decided it was time to start making contacts south of the border. Caught a flight, hopped on the back of a Grab bike, and went to the factory. Outside of Hanoi, we saw examples of molding (plastic injection molding and aluminum die casting - molds made in Vietnam), CNC machining, large scale metal work, and electronics assembly. Enjoy! Looking forward to sharing as we continue to explore around Asia. Apologies for the vertical shot - the best way to hold my phone on the back of a scooter :)...
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Ethiopian Adventures in Manufacturing, Business, and Chinese Influence

Ethiopian Adventures in Manufacturing, Business, and Chinese Influence

Ethiopian Adventures in Manufacturing, Business, and Chinese Influence By Gordon McCambridge I went to Ethiopia in July, ostensibly to see my girlfriend Elaine and the “normal” tourist sites. But it’s hard for me to go anywhere and fully turn off my hardware brain. So while Elaine was at work, I spent my days talking to folks and exploring what I could of developing manufacturing ecosystem of this country. Below are some of my takeaways from my time in and around Addis Ababa. Background Recently there have been reports of Ethiopia as the “China of Africa”  - a future potential manufacturing hub for the region and world. The primary driver here is Ethiopia’s population, which at over 100 million people makes it one of the largest and most densely populated countries in Africa. The comparison to China is also apt in that, emerging from communist rule as late as the 1990s, Ethiopia has relatively low income inequality and crime rates and as such is regarded...
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