Jiuli: R&D capabilities create more value for clients

Jiuli’s Balidian plant produces seamless pipes and pipe fitting in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China.

Stainless Steel World had the honor of returning to the central Yangtze River delta area to meet with its old acquaintance, JIULI. We met with the company’s President & CEO Denny Lee, Chief Engineer & President of JIULI Research Institute Su Cheng, GM of Sales Dept. Simon Shen, Deputy GM of Sales Dept. Zhu Xiaofeng and Director of International Sales Dept. Robin Wang. The team explained the company’s new energy strategy, the JIULI’s state of the art smart factory, enhanced facilities for staff, focus on R&D by allotting more funds, and how this has helped to establish a reputed and reliable brand worldwide.

By Laura Wang, Stainless Steel World, Shanghai

As a globally recognized Chinese tubular company that has been active in the global market for decades, JIULI has always adhered to its core competencies; quality products and reliability. According to Denny Lee, President & CEO of Zhejiang Jiuli Hi-Tech Metals Co., Ltd. (JIULI):
“We’re now working on our third-round of entrepreneurial development to create more value for our shareholders and clients to provide customized, one stop solutions by keeping demanding client requirements in mind. The strategy is to focus on the emerging requirements of clients for the latest energy needs and other new processing facilities. The first round of development started in 1987 and focus was on producing quality tubular products with competitive pricing. The second round of development took place in 2009 when JIULI became a public listed company with boosted investment capabilities. Since then, the company has continuously expanded its product portfolio and market reach.”

Creating value for clients

Jiuli is working on developing more advanced AI technology to check the quality of the pipe surface instead of manual inspection.
Jiuli is working on developing more advanced AI technology to check the quality of the pipe surface instead of manual inspection.

More than 30 years of continuous development, translates into a long history of brand building for JIULI, with numerous successful stories in the domestic and international markets, often under demanding conditions. Today, JIULI has upgraded its vision from ‘Provide the world’s industrial facilities with safe and reliable stainless teel pipes’ to ‘provide the world’s industries with high-performance materials’. JIULI owns advanced and wide-ranging production lines. These include state-of-the-art seamless pipe lines (hot extrusion/piercing + cold rolling/drawing) and welded pipe lines, including FFX and JCO forming, with an overall annual capacity of over 100,000 tons. Outstanding production capabilities enable the company to provide a one-stop solution and working on a strategic inventory covering stainless steel and alloy pipes, fittings, clad/lined pipes, and pipe coating.
GM of Sales Dept. Simon Shen explains recent changes. “JIULI used to simply manufacture tubular products according to customer specifications. Today, we are keen to provide more cost-efficient, effective and suitable solutions with sufficient backing by verifications testing and historical data for each customized solution. The current trend for new projects around the globe is that the process parameters are very demanding & challenging day by day. In addition, the trend towards further segmentation of industry fields is leading to more demanding and complicated material requirements. In response, JIULI management has enhanced its overall strength by increasing investments in scientific research, investing in JIULI Research Institute Phase II, and building an R&D team with the academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. R&D has always been at the top of our agenda. However, when selecting materials, suitability is more important than simply choosing advanced, high-grade materials, so our solutions provide the most suitable and cost-effective options”.
Chief Engineer Su Cheng joined in: “New requirements are giving rise to new challenges for our R&D team. However, as a well-prepared player, Jiuli successfully turns challenges into opportunities. We’ve made many materials advancements for critical conditions in the oil & gas industry and facility upgrades and efficiency enhancement. JIULI Research Institute has made a significant contribution in this regard, thanks to the resources invested in the past decades.” Su Cheng emphasized: “Our research efforts are not simply targeting specific applications. We also invest heavily in fundamental research because that assures the reliability of our research results.”

Boosting industrial advantage and strength with SMART TECHNOLOGY

One-stop solutions bring multiple benefits for clients, including improved quality, efficiency and decreased cost. However, a one-stop solution also requires powerful support from information technology. “Our SMART PLANT satisfies expectations on information construction,” explained Denny Lee: “It’s also an inevitable step for us towards high-efficiency management. SMART TECHNOLOGY not only brings us visualization and digitalization of the whole process, but it also makes our production chain transparent to both our clients and ourselves. These advantages help to avoid errors and delays related to the human factor. In other words, they lead to faster reactions to problems in the production chain and elevated traceability. In addition, with the accumulation of positive application data, users will enjoy more powerful support when selecting products.”
Simon Shen added: “SMART TECHNOLOGY simplifies the information routing from clients to our sales team and production lines. With such highly efficient and accurate information flow, the technology splitting step no longer needs to wait. It can be performed in parallel with the sales stage. In other words, the very first instruction given to the SMART PLANT comes from our sales department. That’s almost as efficient as direct communication between customer and the SMART PLANT.”
While JIULI’s SMART PLANT has significantly reduced the possibility of human error, the company plans to maintain investments in employee training and team building.
“Management is determined to focus on even more care for our people because they believe they are the key factor of a SMART PLANT. With elevated employee competence on one side and unlimited information flow on the other, the SMART PLANT can exploit all the potential and benefits for our clients,” Simon Shen continued. “Take our sales team for example. Those with Masters degrees or higher account for 20%; undergraduates account for 70%. This is quite a challenge for us, but it’s the best way to empower the next generation of JIULI’s industrial chain.”
“Another example: two JIULI plants were designed to make similar products with the same capacity. One was built 15 years ago and employs 300 employees in an untidy workplace. The other is the JIULI SMART PLANT, with only 80 employees on the payroll – yet they are more competent. The SMART PLANT is clean, bright, free of pollution and relatively quiet. JIULI firmly believes that this is the right configuration for manufacturers of the future; a better environment, higher efficiency and quality, namely being proactive when setting up the production, cost, price and a targeted market.”
Denny Lee emphasized: “SMART PLANT is just the first step, which will serve as a useful starting point for JIULI in future development.

Leaded by Chief Engineer Su Cheng, Jiuli’s PHD team has been committing to new product innovation.
Leaded by Chief Engineer Su Cheng, Jiuli’s PHD team has been committing to new product innovation.

Culture and business principle: Respect and Care

Jiuli practices its Respect and Care principle from multiple perspectives, such as EHS and career planning at the macro level, and the staff carport at the micro level. The Jiuli Institute was created to develop the capacity of personnel in terms of professional skills, safety and scientific thinking.
“Our company provides each employee with career development opportunities. Here I can do what I’m specialized in and enjoy. In the beginning, I could not have imagined that after eleven years, I would still have such enthusiasm for my job,” said Deputy GM of Sales Dept. Zhu Xiaofeng. “People are essential to the wellbeing of a company. So JIULI actively fulfils its commitment to care and respect in diverse ways. When a person is respected and is determined to perform respectably, the company will naturally be respectable.”
The Respect and Care principle applies not only internally but also externally. “JIULI treats its upstream and downstream partners in the industrial chain as long term strategic partners, ensuring amicable relationships and a stable supply. Even business rivals are considered as potential partners to cooperate with on specific projects. It’s a good example of how mutual respect secures mutual benefits and long term strategic relationships.”
For example, in October 2018, Sandvik and JIULI entered into a 10-year cooperation agreement related to Sanicro25 Ultra super-critical boiler tubes. JIULI produces the products using raw material provided by Sandvik. The end-users are power plants in the Asia-Pacific region.

Jiuli with global charm

Jiuli has worked hard to achieve its position internationally as a leading tubular product manufacturer. The company has built a strong reputation in the oil & gas, LNG, chemical and petrochemical industries. Director of International Sales Dept. Robin Wang explained: “Quality is the foundation of any business, and JIULI upholds the principle of ‘hard work and enterprise; excelling in quality and good faith’. We’ve always focused on producing top quality products and are now moving into serving critical equipment in key projects.”
Robin Wang continued: “Customer confidence is maintained by our reliable quality, good lead times and price performance. Favorable customer feedback and our track record are proof of this. People say that the business is war without bullets and in such circumstances, mutual understanding, trust, and selfless help is vital. By providing outstanding quality, professional service and maintaining business ethics, JIULI retains not only many clients but also precious friendships that sustain us through thick and thin.”

The new energy market

Jiuli has upgraded its vision to ‘Provide the world’s industries with high-performance materials’.
Jiuli has upgraded its vision to ‘Provide the world’s industries with high-performance materials’.

As promoted by Zhou Zhijiang, the founder and Board Chairman of Jiuli Group, the company practices the principle of “Keeping pace with the times” especially when it comes to ever-changing user needs and complicated market trends. Mr Zhou revealed how this can be summarized effectively: “Certificates are the past. Capability is present. Learning is the future.” A framed scroll of this saying is displayed prominently in the JIULI office building.
“We’re full of confidence for the future,” explained Denny Lee: “Over three decades of activity in the stainless steel pipe market has turned Jiuli into a sophisticated company. And we are capable of fulfilling more achievements. Personalized demands are burgeoning due to upgrades in the traditional energy industry, expansion of the new energy industry and other industrial sectors. These are our new directions of development.”
In line with the global attention on carbon footprints issues, Jiuli has made a specific development plan regarding the new energy industry. A series of high-performance materials has been developed following active R&D efforts in the solar power, photovoltaic and hydrogen sectors.
Jiuli’s confidence in future developments is supported by the world-famous names appearing with increasing frequency in its customer list. Such clients have strict requirements in terms of quality, safety, efficiency and cost, which Jiuli can handle very well. Such strengths, including R&D capabilities, are powerful supports for future developments. Jiuli raises the same issues to its suppliers, who must also be ready to support the upcoming exploration and development in new sectors with sufficient capability and strength.
Jiuli’s strength and developments have enabled it to enhance its market position and evolve from manufacturing basic materials to being a full-range service supplier. As a sophisticated company, Jiuli is well-placed to press ahead in step with market trends. It is reasonable to expect that Jiuli will leverage the global new energy initiative and pave the way to a new round of entrepreneurial developments.

Facts & Figures

Name:  Zhejiang Jiuli Hi-Tech Metals Co., Ltd.

Headquarters:  Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China

Products: Seamless piping, welded piping, tubing, CRA OCTG, CRA line pipe, clad / lined pipe, butt welded pipe fittings, flanges

Products: Stainless steel, (super) duplex, corrosion resistant alloy, high/low temperature  resistant alloy, titanium

About this Featured Story

This Featured Story first appeared in Stainless Steel World September 2021 magazine. To read many more articles like these on an (almost) monthly basis, subscribe to our magazine (available in print and digitally).

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Featured Story by: Laura Wang

All images were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, or in compliance with social distancing.

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