INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN TEMPUS
Sulzer is a global leader in fluid engineering. The company specializes in pumping, agitation, mixing, separation and application technologies for fluids of all types. In our series of “Projects re-visited”, we present the SULZER PUMPS project in Suzhou, a greenfield plant and office building with many special requirements and spoke to Martin Tempus, the General Manager of Sulzer Pumps Suzhou when the project was realized.
How did you get in contact with VIRTUARCH?
Shortly after I came to Shanghai, I joined SwissCham Shanghai, the Shanghai chapter of the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce, where Daniel Heusser was member of the board at that time. The first contact with Daniel was at one of their events, and we met regularly afterwards at these events. When we started the design phase for the new factory we contacted several architects in and around Shanghai. It was obvious that VIRTUARCH was a leading contender for this project.
Why did you decide to do the project with VIRTUARCH?
The requirement from the Sulzer Pumps Headquarters in Switzerland was to build a high-end factory to manufacture high-performance process pumps. The plan was to set-up a new location in China with locally hired staff and experts who run a fully functional factory for process pumps with the required high-end quality. The request from headquarters was to find an architect and general contractor who was able to deliver European quality at competitive Chinese cost. We interviewed several companies, and VIRTUARCH simply offered the best package. Daniel and his team have been active in China and Asia for a very long time. They know how to manage projects like ours to achieve Western standards of quality. We could sense this in the conversations we had and see it in the reference sites we visited. Within roughly two years from the first discussions about the layout and design to the opening ceremony we could realize this benchmark project together with VIRTUARCH. With the opening and the smooth operation of the new factory, everything we had hoped for has been confirmed.
Why did you decide to design a new office and factory building?
For our project, the localization of the high-performance process pumps, we needed a large office building for the engineers and admin staff connected to a full-length factory hall. Actually, this is a classic arrangement, but it needed to be designed in a way, that we could extend the factory hall if necessary. We decided to go to Suzhou New District because we had a very good feeling for the team of the industrial zone, which proved to be correct as they kept their promises made in the contract.
What did you expect from the new buildings? Did you have any specific requirements?
We had many requirements for the layout of the production area. In particular we had to integrate a fully functional pump test system. Around a third of the budget was earmarked for test circuit with large tubes, control systems and a large transformer. The power consumption is very high for such a test loop and the power supply must be guaranteed.
An important aspect and therefore a special task for VIRTUARCH was the design of the factory. It had to be premium. We sell high-end pumps, our customers spend a lot of money on a high-quality product, and thus the factory and the office buildings must meet this high standard. I remember that VIRTUARCH recommended an elegant Chinese-style roof instead of a conventional flat roof. That was of course a little bit more expensive, but fortunately the headquarters did agree on this and now we have a very elegant and representative building in Suzhou that we are very happy about. Not to forget the traffic concept with entrances and exits for trucks and walkways, that guarantees a smooth flow. We benefit from this thought-through concept every day.
What do you like most about the new office and the new factory building?
The office building has very special blinds to keep direct sunlight outside and control the temperature especially in the summer. I already mentioned the roof. That is really great. In front of the building, VIRTUARCH placed a Chinese garden with a water basin and bridges. The whole arrangement is a unit with great attractiveness. You can tell immediately that it was designed by a competent hand.
How has the new office and factory affected your work and the working style?
The attractiveness of the building is not only visible to customers, but also a feel-good factor for our employees. We are a technology leader, as you can also see at our location in Suzhou. The new building actually helps us to find good people, because our employees like to work here and are proud of it.
How did the VIRTUARCH team manage your project?
The project manager was Therdsiddhi Hoprasartsuk-Pellaumail. At that time, he was in Shanghai and now heads the VIRTUARCH Office in Bangkok, as far as I know. He was always available for us and very committed to our project. Daniel Heusser was personally there to discuss critical points. So, we always had the feeling that VIRTUARCH had everything under control and accordingly felt safe. A lot can go wrong with a project of this size. But it didn’t.
Would you work again with VIRTUARCH in a possible next project?
Actually, we did. The following task was to renovate an old factory hall in Jiading, Shanghai. However, we didn’t want to simply renovate it, but rather modernize it with stylistic elements and upgrade it optically. We wanted a premium building here too and VIRTUARCH has also done this very well.
Would you recommend VIRTUARCH, and if so, why, what impressed you the most?
Certainly. VIRTUARCH is able to combine Western standards with Chinese cost and speed, to put it that way. Meaning, we do not end up with a low-cost building, but received a cost-effective, sustainable solution. Longevity is important to us and VIRTUARCH can deliver that. One of the key strengths is that they delivered everything: from the design to the construction management or individual modules. VIRTUARCH also has extensive experience in dealing with the local authorities. This connection is absolutely essential for a construction project in China. So much can be done wrongly. You need a partner who can advise and act absolutely reliably here. VIRTUARCH is that partner.
PROJECT NAME: SULZER PUMPS, SUZHOU
CLIENT: SULZER PUMPS, SUZHOU
LOCATION: SUZHOU, JIANGSU, P.R.CHINA
INDUSTRY SECTOR: MACHINERY
PROJECT SIZE: 21,300 sqm
SERVICES: INTERIOR DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE DESIGN, DESIGN MANAGEMENT