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China’s Furniture Machinery Gains Market Share

As we highlighted in our previous article – Embracing automation in more manufacturing verticals, we see a great potential for China to raise the automation adoption in existing manufacturing supply chains. In this article, we provide a case study on the furniture supply chain and how China machinery companies are winning a spot in this space.

Higher Adoption of Automated Machinery

We see a growing share of panel type furniture in households, replacing traditional solid wood furniture, because the former is more environmentally friendly, has lighter weight and is more affordable. Panel type furniture production involves multiple processing steps such as sawing, edge banding, drilling and fitting, which is highly suitable for automated solutions and machining. These solutions can offer faster processing speed, reduce labour dependence and improve labour productivity. This also leads to better inventory and raw material management and improves product quality consistency.

Chinese Players Gain Global Market Share

The panel type furniture machinery industry used to be dominated by European suppliers, including Homag from Germany, as well as Biesse and SCM from Italy. In recent years, Chinese furniture machinery companies such as KDT Machinery and Nanxing Machinery are increasing their presence in the industry with cost competitive products. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated their expansion pace as the global supply chain of furniture production has been disrupted. China is becoming a more and more important furniture exporter which caters growing home improvement demand globally. As European competitors are suffering from supply chain disruption, furniture companies (e.g. Oppein and Suofeiya in China) are more open to rely on domestic machinery companies.

Cost Advantage and After-Sale Services

Though Chinese furniture machinery companies still face a five to six- year technology gap vs. global players, their equipment is already good enough to use, with superior pricing advantage and after-sales services. Cost of domestic machinery is less than half of European competitive products, while domestic machinery suppliers can offer tailor-made after-sales services in a more timely manner without meaningful surcharges. The shorter use life of domestic products might encourage a faster machinery upgrade and technology innovation. End customers’ repetitive orders and industry experts’ positive feedback so far bode well for domestic machinery companies’ growth momentum in the future.

Riding the Trend of Customization

We see rising interest in personalized furniture products in China as a key driver of higher adoption of automated solutions in existing production lines. More end-users are looking for consistency in colour and style patterns of their home furniture and special fittings to better utilize floor space, which creates a strong demand for automation in manufacturing supply chains. Leading furniture players in China are increasing their spending to build new production lines and retrofit their existing lines for the purpose of automation which will allow much faster responses and improve consistency in product quality.

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