At the present time people here are actively discussing the subject of fine dust, but how is the current situation in Asia? To find out, in March 2018 my colleague Christoph Schulz and I went on a business trip to China, Japan and India, where we visited MANN+HUMMEL locations. The result was a number of interesting impressions and good prospects for our innovative fine dust eater project.
Our journey firstly took us to Shanghai where MANN+HUMMEL has a production plant with several hundred employees. Our accommodation was in Jiading, a suburb of Shanghai, where hardly any foreign tourists are to be seen which gave us a good opportunity to collect everyday impressions and to get to know the local culture. Looking at the urban landscape our first impression was that many two-wheel vehicles and buses are already running on electric drives, at least with the newer models. Despite this, when we were in the vicinity of roads we noticed that the environmental pollution is very high. In China fine dust is something which can be physically felt.
PM10 versus PM2.5 – what are we actually measuring?
The aim of the trip to Asia was to inform our colleagues in the respective countries about the development status of our fine dust eater platform. For this purpose we held workshops at the three locations we visited in Shanghai, Yokohama and Bangalore. After bringing colleagues technically up to date, we wanted to hear from them how relevant the subject of fine dust is in their countries. We asked about the regulatory limits and then asked about how the population felt. In addition, we talked to colleagues about how we could prepare for a market launch in their countries.
One aspect came fairly quickly to light. What is actually being measured in Europe and Asia? In Europe the market is focused on the particle size of PM10. Those are particles which have an aerodynamic diameter of 10 micrometers or smaller. This particle size has been extensively measured in Germany since 2000, and extensive measurement of smaller particles of the size PM 2.5 was only started in 2008. In Asia and the rest of the world the focus right from the start was on the smaller, more dangerous particles, most probably because there the measurement for those particles is fairly new. Countries such as Japan and Korea have even more stringent emission limits than Europe. In China and India the limit values are more relaxed, but these countries continue to develop rapidly.
Collecting local impressions
On March 15 we continued on to Japan. MANN+HUMMEL maintains an administrative office in Yokohama with roughly 30 employees. Yokohama is part of the Tokyo conurbation and is the second-largest city in the country. Here we were able to spend a complete weekend. We used the time to immerse ourselves in the local culture, enjoying street food, traveling on the underground railways and buses and we also found time for some shopping. The hustle and bustle of the city particularly impressed me and also the very well organized public transport system.
On March 19 we traveled on further to Bangalore which with more than eight million residents is the third largest city in India. MANN+HUMMEL has a development and test center there with more than a hundred colleagues. Our flight landed at the airport in the night and a taxi then took us along well lit-up roads. In the light coming from the street lamps one could almost see the dust pollution. India suffers from an extremely high level of environmental pollution. There is a tremendous need to catch up there, but at the same time environmental consciousness is on the increase. Bangalore is also named the garden city of India because for Indian standards it has a relatively high number of parks. In particular, the center of old Bangalore is easy to discover on foot. We also visited a temple there.
The workshops in the Asian locations were very positive for our fine dust eater team. The MANN+HUMMEL employees in all the countries are well informed about the subject of environmental pollution. They see our fine dust filters as a big opportunity for our company to open up a new market segment there. In China and India the talk is of extensive fine dust pollution. The situation is different in Japan and not least because the Japanese have such strict emission limits. There is only real fine dust pollution at individual hotspots where the underground railway and the railways are in operation.
We carried out some measurements together with our Japanese colleagues on the underground railway and were indeed able to establish an increased level of fine dust pollution there. A stationary filtration solution would surely be more interesting for this market.
In the MANN+HUMMEL offices we spoke in detail about a possible marketing campaign for the fine dust eater. We had a number of different draft designs with us and asked the colleagues for their feedback as to whether these would be suitable for their market.
I returned from the trip with many new impressions and interesting experiences. Asia is definitely the right market for our fine dust eater project. The problems for people there can almost be touched and by this I mean a user experience in a negative sense. However, by experiencing the problem, the level of consciousness about it is raised. There is also a will which exists to address the problem. Solutions such as ours are welcome and an implementation could take place in a short time with the agile and efficient approach often seen on the Asian market.
The next summit with colleagues from India, China, Korea and Japan is already planned for the end of November in Singapore.