Inside the Wuben factory!⌗
An opportunity to visit the Wuben flashlight factory came up while visiting family in China. I reached out to Edison from Wuben, where he had sent multiple torches for review.
Here are some reviews:
Edison kindly arranged the visit to their factory in Dongguan and headquarters in Shenzhen. I had asked whether I could make a video and take photos and they kindly agreed.
Here is a video of my visit to the Wuben factory:
The night before visiting Wuben, my father-in-law kindly took me to a high-speed railway station so that I could collect a ticket to travel to Shanghai. The trip to Shenzhen would require a high-speed train to Shanghai (Hongqiao), metro line 10 train trip to Terminal 1, followed by a flight from Hongqiao to Shenzhen Bao’an airport.
Later that night we finished packing our suitcases for two separate trips. My father-in-law, mother-in-law, wife and daughter packed to visit Xi’an and I packed carry-on luggage to visit five flashlight factories in Shenzhen and Dongguan over three days.
Getting to Shenzhen⌗
We woke up at 5am Wednesday the 10th of May and my father-in-law dropped me off an hour early at the high-speed railway station.
I kept an eye out for the status of my train on the big display at the station.
It was eventually my time to board. I lined up in a queue near a staff member. When I got to the front I showed the staff member my passport, because the ID checkpoint seemed to be for Chinese citizens and I was not sure if a passport would scan. They sorted it out and I walked through to wait at the platform for my train.
One train zoomed past pretty quickly while waiting! Luckily I was not wearing a hat or it would have blown off.
I queued up for the train near my designated car and boarded when the train arrived.
Someone was in my seat. But they got up and moved to another one.
I got off at the second stop, Hongqiao, and made my way to metro line 10 where I purchased a ticket using WeChat to scan the QR code.
I needed to catch a train on metro line 10 to Terminal 1. Hongqiao has a massive airport with a station at Terminal 1 and 2.
The train was pretty busy when I got on. I jumped off at the second stop, Terminal 1, and walked about 350m to the terminal.
I initially tried to get a boarding pass for the flight using the self-service kiosk but it did not accept my passport. I then tried the customer service counter where they pointed me to the baggage check-in counters.
I only had carry-on but I lined up anyway. After a minute, a lady at a first class counter pointed at me in the middle of the line and waved me over. She printed the boarding pass and gave me a window seat. I had booked economy, so this was nice.
I then walked over to the security checkpoint. Given how large the airport is, and how there are multiple airlines, I showed a security guard my boarding pass and tried to ask if I should go through this security check point or another one. Was I in the right place?
The security guard directed me to the disabled, elderly and children line. This made things a bit easier because I do not speak fluent Mandarin.
I had my bags x-rayed and went through without any issue.
I saw a KFC and bought the equivalent of a breakfast muffin and a coffee. Any excuse to learn Mandarin! And then I waited at the gate with a travel charger connected to a power point to charge my phone.
I had been excitedly sending Edison updates via WeChat about my journey. The flight ended up being delayed by about an hour. I had hoped that I would arrive before 1pm. I let Edison know about the delay.
Arriving at Shenzhen⌗
After what seemed like a 3 or 4 hour flight, I had finally arrived at Shenzhen Bao’an airport.
Edison shared a photo of where he was, near the East Exit, and I walked there.
Edison and Mr Tan (head engineer at Wuben) greeted me. Edison kindly gave me an iced latte while Mr Tan had a cold brew coffee.
Plans to visit a local restaurant for a Canton lunch were cancelled by the restaurant. I honestly did not mind. I was eager to spend more time visiting the factory and talking about flashlights.
Edison arranged for lunch to be delivered at the office at the factory after we got into Mr Tan’s electric vehicle.
Mr Tan drove us 1.5 hours from Shenzhen to the factory in Dongguan.
I spent most of the time in the car talking with Edison, playing with the car voice assistant called Nomi, and using my phone to try to translate to talk with Mr Tan instead of looking at all the scenery outside.
Mr Tan mentioned that he used to work at NEXTORCH and when I talked about ReyLight he said that he had designed some of the torches for Rey. I tried to talk about how PWM was increased in the ReyLight Pineapple Mini and Mr Tan got more excited.
At the Wuben factory⌗
We arrived at the factory and took the lift up to the boss’s office to have lunch. While waiting for lunch, we looked at the show room with many examples of products that Wuben has produced under the Wuben brand and for other brands. ReyLight and Darksucks flashlights caught my eye, as did the Wuben X series.
I made some videos with Edison near the office and lunch arrived. We had various local dishes and some chips. Yes, I can use chopsticks!
After lunch we went downstairs and out to the factory. The first area had aluminium rods and raw materials.
We then moved to room with several CNC machines and lathes.
They had many different bits for the CNC machines.
In another building I saw several more machines and lathes being used. I was mindful that the factory was operating and tried not to get in the way.
Wuben kindly let me take photos and videos. That said, I tried to avoid taking photos of detailed designs.
We walked upstairs and put shoe covers on to see the assembly lines. The first assembly area was being used to train employees on new production lines (e.g. X3).
I was particularly interested in the SMT room where they had hundreds of stencils for solder paste and thousands of components on reels to reflow components onto boards.
One machine put solder paste on each board with a stencil and passed it to a pick and place machine. The pick and place machine put components on and fed the board onto a conveyer belt that passed through an oven to reflow the components.
At the end, an employee checked the boards with a digital multimeter and had a hot plate to fix any mistakes.
We proceeded to main assembly area where X0 were being assembled, tested and X1 were being packaged up.
The X1s had been assembled and had been through a testing room downstairs before being packaged up.
When Edison mentioned testing, I asked if I could see. He then proceeded to take me to the testing area.
They had batteries being tested, buttons being automatically pressed, flashlights being charged, and an integrating sphere to check lumen output. There were several more test machines.
Visiting Wuben HQ⌗
Conscious of time, we headed back to Shenzen. Monica at Olight had arranged a hotel near Olight headquarters and I did not want to make her wait.
While heading back to Shenzhen, the boss, Mr Yao, asked if we could meet at the Wuben headquarters.
Edison contacted Monica and confirmed that he would help check me into the hotel later that night.
We arrived at Wuben HQ where it was actually the headquarters of their wider group of companies.
I was greeted by Sissi and met Mia, Ameen and Mr Yao.
Mr Yao kindly prepared tea in his office and offered fruits. We talked about Australia and Wuben. He then offered me tea from his brother’s business where the tea had aged for two years and was best after five years. Mr Yao is very passionate about tea.
Mr Yao then invited me to dinner with 20-30 colleagues.
Edison showed me around the HQ while Ameen got his car to take us to dinner.
I felt very welcome. We had a lot of dishes and wine.
At 10pm I logged into my website and published my review of the Wuben X3. I probably should not have done this at the dinner table but I was excited. I also shared photos of the X3 to social media.
I was driven to the hotel near Olight where Edison checked me in. It was a pretty fancy hotel.
I went downstairs to take some photos of the sculpture that looked like a giant Olight Obulb, knowing that I probably would not have the opportunity to take photos of it at night later.
I went to sleep around midnight looking forward to the next factory visit.
Thank you Edison, Mr Tan and Wuben for being extremely welcoming!