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The Hometown of Chinese Bearings

The Hometown of Chinese Bearings


Bearings are used in many items in our daily lives, including watches, cars, home appliances, and yo-yos. Surprisingly, however, one of the largest bearing production bases in China is actually located in a small town called Yandian Town in Linqing City, Liaocheng City, Shandong Province.

Many people have heard of "Suzhou and Hangzhou in the south", but have you heard of "Linzhang in the north"? The "Lin" refers to Linqing City. Due to its proximity to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Linqing’s commerce developed rapidly and it became the top of the eight banknote gates in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It paid 8 million taels of silver every year, accounting for 1/4 of the national tax revenue. The most famous industry at that time was the "tribute bricks" fired by Linqing official kilns.

It is said that in the Ming and Qing dynasties, Linqing was the origin of tribute bricks for the royal family’s "millions of city bricks". Neither alkali nor corrosion. There is a folk rumor that says: "The bricks of Linqing are separated from the city of Beijing by 800 miles, transported by water for 600 years, and there is Linqing in the Forbidden City."

However, this splendor is only a thing of the past. Linqing City has embarked on a unique path of industrial transformation. Since the 1980s, the bearing industry cluster has risen in Yandian Town, Linqing City. After more than 40 years of rapid development, the bearing industry has now become an important economic pillar of Linqing City. The annual sales of bearings reached 30 billion yuan, and Linqing Bearing Industry Cluster has become one of the largest bearing industry clusters in the country, and is an important part of China's bearing industry. For this reason, Yandian Town is famous all over the world, and has won the honorary titles of "Hometown of Chinese Bearings" and "Capital of Chinese Bearing Trade".

However, the road to transformation has not been smooth.

In 1958, the first bearing factory was established in Linqing City, which marked the beginning of the bearing industry in Linqing. But at that time, the scale was small and did not cause much repercussions. It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that the bearing industry began to enter the public eye.

This period coincided with the wave of reform and opening up, and more and more people began to get involved in the bearing industry in Yandian Town and surrounding towns. From the initial few people to a dozen people, and then to more than a hundred people, gradually formed in Linqing City. A small-scale bearing trading market has been established. However, due to the lack of supervision and industry self-discipline, many counterfeit and shoddy products are circulating in the market, which has hit consumers' confidence and hindered the development of the bearing industry.

It wasn't until 1984 that the bearing market was moved from Linqing City to Yandian Town. After several upgrades, an orderly bearing production and sales process and a healthy market environment gradually formed.

Although the bearing industry has been on the right track in terms of production and sales, and the scale has grown, the problem of "groups but not together, many but not refined" needs to be solved urgently, otherwise it will be difficult to cope with the impact of foreign big brands and high-end products of domestic bearing companies .

Therefore, Yandian Town has determined a path - to establish a demonstration park for the transformation of new and old kinetic energy in the bearing industry that integrates high-end bearing intelligent manufacturing, bearing industry chain extension, high-tech research and development, and intensive pollution control. Driven by technological transformation, bearing production has changed from "manufacturing" to "intelligent manufacturing". It used to rely on "low cost to win", but now it relies on "innovation to succeed".

When Li Ruijian took over his father's business in 2012, he had only 10 pieces of equipment and 8 workers. He thought to himself: "I can't follow the old way, I must innovate and keep up with the pace of the times." In the next ten years, he replaced all the old manual equipment with digital equipment, and the number of equipment increased to 30. The number of models has increased from 8 to 50, and the number of employees has also increased significantly. Now, he sighs: "If there is no breakthrough, this 5,000-square-meter modern workshop will only remain in a dream, let alone our bearings can be exported to 7 countries."

Innovators like Li Ruijian are not alone. Many local bearing companies jointly founded the Linqing Bearing Chamber of Commerce, aiming to inherit the bearing culture and build a century-old bearing brand.

The biggest feature of this chamber of commerce is its regular visits to leading companies. During the visit, they can see the production and R&D process of leading companies, the latest equipment and production lines. This demonstration effect motivates other companies to continue to innovate. Li Ruijian said: "In addition to product technology innovation, all aspects of management and industry are also innovating."

Driven by the joint efforts of the government and enterprises, the bearing industry in Yandian Town is developing more and more in the direction of "high precision". Locally produced thin-walled special bearings and other products can completely replace imports, forming a complete industrial chain from bearing steel, bearing steel pipe, forging, turning, grinding, heat treatment, ferrules, cages, rolling elements to assembly and sales, forming Centered on tobacco shops, it radiates surrounding counties, cities and dozens of townships, a huge bearing industry cluster integrating production, processing and sales.

Yandian Town has truly become "the capital of China's bearing trade". If you travel there, you will see bearing storefronts everywhere, high-rise buildings, traffic flow, and neon lights flashing when night falls, looking like a bustling county town from a distance, which makes people re-examine the impression of this town. The bearing industry has brought economic benefits to local residents and provided product support for all walks of life. It has made the small town of Yandian a famous place in the country, and it has also revitalized the once glorious but declining Linqing City.

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