Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

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fastpedaller
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Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby fastpedaller » 15 Oct 2018, 11:22am

The attached is (IMHO) a very interesting and insightful look into the evolution of the Taiwan cycle industry. Quite lengthy but worth the read :D
https://read.dukeupress.edu/easts/artic ... 1Hsieh.pdf

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cyclemad
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby cyclemad » 15 Oct 2018, 2:21pm

can you summarise this as I started losing the will to live halfway through the second page...sorry

reohn2
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby reohn2 » 15 Oct 2018, 4:20pm

Heavy going would be the horse racing term.
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Airsporter1st
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby Airsporter1st » 15 Oct 2018, 4:26pm

cyclemad wrote:can you summarise this as I started losing the will to live halfway through the second page...sorry


Summary: The Taiwanese do cycles better and cheaper than in the West.

reohn2
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby reohn2 » 15 Oct 2018, 5:24pm

Airsporter1st wrote:
cyclemad wrote:can you summarise this as I started losing the will to live halfway through the second page...sorry


Summary: The Taiwanese do cycles better and cheaper than in the West.


Quite right.
I've not long since finished reading The Dancing Chain by Frank J Berto.
If I take anything away with me from that book it's how the Japanese,Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers did their R&D diligently and innovatively whilst the European,UK and US manufacturers,including Campagnolo,didn't,and suffered greatly as a consequence.
The European,US and UK cycling industries seem to be the same story as the UK car and motorcycle industries.
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fastpedaller
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby fastpedaller » 15 Oct 2018, 7:57pm

reohn2 wrote:
Airsporter1st wrote:
cyclemad wrote:can you summarise this as I started losing the will to live halfway through the second page...sorry


Summary: The Taiwanese do cycles better and cheaper than in the West.


Quite right.
I've not long since finished reading The Dancing Chain by Frank J Berto.
If I take anything away with me from that book it's how the Japanese,Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers did their R&D diligently and innovatively whilst the European,UK and US manufacturers,including Campagnolo,didn't,and suffered greatly as a consequence.
The European,US and UK cycling industries seem to be the same story as the UK car and motorcycle industries.


In a nutshell. One aspect of this is that the initial machinery and/or processes came from Europe or USA, and the Taiwanese learnt very quickly! Our missed opportunity.

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby JakobW » 16 Oct 2018, 10:39am

That was quite an interesting paper, though I'll agree it was fairly heavy going, even for someone with an academic background in Science and Technology Studies! To expand a bit more, the author's trying to explain a paradox: over the past 30-40 years, Taiwan's bicycle manufacturing industry has managed to move up the value chain - it's no longer just a cheap place to make bicycles, but is a centre of expertise for bicycle design and production. However, the industry is largely made up of lots of small and medium specialist suppliers (in the period under study here, even the top 10 producers only account for 40% of exports, and it's possible they subcontract lots of their production); according to orthodox theory, one would expect this kind of change to be led by big producers, who can invest in the R&D and tooling to allow for new designs. According to Hsieh, the innovation came largely from supplier networks. Many of these small companies provided machining and manufacturing services for various industries, where they picked up techniques that could be applied to bicycle manufacturing; they also shared expertise widely, allowing new methods to spread quickly through the industry.

Her basic history is something like this: in the 70s bike boom, Japan was the main location for US bicycle sub-contracting; Taiwan was limited to kids' bikes, very-low-end bicycles, and BMX (which apparently Japanese makers viewed as rather infra dig). The BMX frames were electro-welded, which gave some of the Taiwanese makers the idea to experiment with TIG welding CroMo tubing for higher-quality bikes. This stood them in good stead once the MTB boom kicked off; though the Japanese bikes were lugged and brazed to a very high standard (e.g. the first Stumpjumpers), as the designs began to change, the design flexibility that welding enabled allowed Taiwanese makers to pick up lots of orders. They then built on this to develop expertise in Aluminium welding and hydroforming (including the development of smaller, cheaper hydroforming presses - suited to cycle tubing rather than car components - which allowed the techniques to spread around the industry), and then also in CF production.

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby Samuel D » 16 Oct 2018, 1:03pm

I was going to attempt a summary, but JakobW beat me to it and did a better job.

The commercialisation of aluminium hydroforming in bicycles was interesting to me because it slightly goes against Hsieh’s decentralisation theory, in that a state-funded body called the Metal Industries Research and Development Center (MIRDC) was crucial to its adoption in Taiwan. There’s a quote in the paper from a Taiwanese engineer at MIRDC:

“We observed the trend in applying aluminum hydroforming manufacturing technology in the automobile industry in our various overseas research visits. We started to explore the feasibility of introducing this manufacturing method in Taiwan around the year 2000. … Our goal was aiming at Taiwan’s auto industry. However, it turned out that Taiwan’s auto industry lacked the design capacities. … We then turned to the bicycle industry and spent a block of time to convince them to work with us on the project to explore the applications of this technology in bicycle tubes.”

I have worked in British and French companies that should be doing “overseas research visits” but wouldn’t dream of it, such is their hubris and incompetence. So these Taiwanese guys already had a head start with their willingness to learn.

But the cost of a hydroforming press, about $3 million from Germany, was apparently prohibitive. So this state institute, MIRDC, organised the local manufacture of presses, halving their cost. And then the local industry started making smaller presses, good for bicycles but not so much the car industry that the German presses were aimed at. The result was suitable presses at one-tenth the cost of the big German ones – and therefore widespread adoption.

Nowadays it appears that Taiwan is the Silicon Valley of the bicycle industry, where anything can be done if you just know the right factory – and if you don’t, your neighbour can tell you where it is and the email address of the guy who runs the shop floor.

I wonder how much longer this decentralised or otherwise Taiwan Inc will wait before going after Shimano.

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby JakobW » 16 Oct 2018, 4:15pm

Silicon Valley is, of course, the perfect example of an economic cluster created from state intervention; the reason it is where it is is that in the 1950s the US air force needed microelectronics on an unprecedented scale for its guided and ballistic missile programmes, and supported the growth of chip manufacturers close to the existing Southern Californian defence and aerospace manufacturers. Skills clusters like this are key to many kinds of manufacturing innovation; here's a draft piece that I wrote a few years ago about Frank Whittle and the jet engine that touches on this subject. https://thrustvector.wordpress.com/2012 ... -start-up/

With regard to the UK cycle industry, I can't think of too many academic histories that touch on its decline and fall. There's Paul Rosen's book on Raleigh (_Framing Production_, MIT Press), which IIRC also points to the rise of the MTB and of overseas manufacturing as factors in its decline; there also appears to be a more recent book on Raleigh and the British Bicycle Industry by Lloyd-Jones and Lewis, but that stops in 1960. I'll have to dig through my old reading lists and see if there's anything else that pops up.

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby PH » 16 Oct 2018, 5:22pm

Samuel D wrote:I wonder how much longer this decentralised or otherwise Taiwan Inc will wait before going after Shimano.

I've only skimmed the article, though I have also lived and worked in Taiwan and my impression of both is that they don't want to go "after" Shimano, they want to be a supplier to, which they probably already are. The R&D, of which hydroforming is an excellent example, is aimed at the process rather than the product. My interpretation is those frame building Taiwanese companies are not trying to get a consumer to by their bike, they're wanting to offer their services to manufacturers. I'm sure they'll have the expertise on what makes a good frame, but their primary concern will be how they can be the best at making it.
Not really covered in the article is the workforce and QC, there is something to be said for cliche in Chinese culture regarding the loss of face, telling someone a job they'd done was inadequate would be a cause of shame. When you add that they're not being paid for it, you can see where the consistency comes from!
My employment it Taiwan (20+ years ago, so it's possibly changed) was the structural set up and maintaining of various trade shows, which is a big business in it's own right. One notable was a shoe expo, it had everything you could imagine and plenty you couldn't, but hardly any shoes!

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby horizon » 16 Oct 2018, 6:00pm

Just in case we haven't mentioned him, here's a Wiki article about Deming:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

I think it's dangerous to credit one man with anything but the West certainly missed a trick.

My last new bike (a Tern) was built in Vietnam. I find it hard to understand why someone would not be interested in where and how their bike was made, not just to know that it was made well but that the people making it weren't exploited or poisoned or their environment polluted. Maybe the myth that British is best leads makers to hide their origins. The paucity of information on product origin is peculiar to say the least.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby Cyril Haearn » 16 Oct 2018, 7:52pm

Industrial history, development, location, is very interesting, there is another live thread about Brompton cycles made in London, +1!
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reohn2
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Re: Intersting article about Taiwan cycle industry.

Postby reohn2 » 16 Oct 2018, 8:11pm

horizon wrote:Just in case we haven't mentioned him, here's a Wiki article about Deming:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

I think it's dangerous to credit one man with anything but the West certainly missed a trick.

My last new bike (a Tern) was built in Vietnam. I find it hard to understand why someone would not be interested in where and how their bike was made, not just to know that it was made well but that the people making it weren't exploited or poisoned or their environment polluted. Maybe the myth that British is best leads makers to hide their origins. The paucity of information on product origin is peculiar to say the least.

A factory visit in Taiwan:- https://youtu.be/w8d3mxBPngE
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