CHINA: Making NXT drivers and automobile trumpets
Friday:- Over the border into mainland China to visit the Shinhint Group factory in Chang An, Guangdong, where NXT's Balanced Mode Radiator drive units are made.
We're driven from Hong Kong by Ernest Ip, Shinhint's COO, and entering China proves remarkably simple, given all the faff involved in getting a visa back in the UK. Another 45 minutes drive north from the border at Lo Wu, and we're at the factory.
Shinhint is the sole licensee for the manufacture of NXT's BR drivers, and while all the research is done back at NXT, the team at Chang An develops new versions of the drive units for customers. Another factory makes finished products such as PC and portable speakers.
The development team is headed by Professor Wei: Wei Shi Xiong was formerly a professor at Qingdao University, and joined the company five years back.
He has electrical and mechanical teams, an acoustics facility and a rapid prototyping workshop, and the focus is on applying NXT's research into products.
At the moment, for example, it's working on expanding the range of HARP drivers into a variety of different sizes, from the tiny to the large, as more TV manufacturers get interested in the technology.
Making the NXT HARPs is a little trickier than with some drivers - glueing the diaphragm in place requires a machine to do a bit more of a bob and a shuffle, rather than just spinning a circular driver.
But some things remain the same: this guy is taking magnets and - umm - magnetising them:
Stacks of finished drivers build up at the end of the production line - the company has some 1200 staff working at the factory, under the eye of the jovial but clearly no-nonsense Senior Operations Manager, Suzanne Lo.
But Shinhint also takes the product further, building the drivers into completed speaker housings for a TV manufacturer
each one of which is subjected to a listening test before being packed for dispatch
Other products being made at the factory include speaker systems for a mobile phone manufacturer, and a whole floor dedicated to making drive units for in-car use, servicing the likes of Ford, GM and VAG.
Or, as the sign over the entrance to the production floor says,