China Tobacco’s Beijing Center processing plant impressive

This week, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and representatives from several N.C. commodity groups are visiting Beijing on a trade mission. Andrea Ashby, NCDA&CS assistant director of public affairs, is also in China and is posting periodic updates of the visit.

Commissioner Troxler and members of the trade team toured China Tobacco’s Beijing Center cigarette processing  plant Thursday. The year-old, state-of-the-art facility produces 20 billion cigarettes a year and includes robotic technology that retrieves and moves around containers of different types of tobacco to be mixed together to create the blends for each specific brand of cigarettes.

Members of the tobacco team who were taking part in the trade mission to China pose in front of an entrance to China Tobacco's Beijing cigarette manufacuring and distribution facilty.

The robotic lifts move independently to retrieve tobacco from storage spaces and will even stop when they sense the presence of a person or another lift to avoid accidents in the workspace.

A robotic lift moves through China Tobacco's Beijing Cigarette Manufacturing and Distribution Center to pick up a container of tobacco to make a specific cigarette blend.

On the campus of the Beijing facility is also a distribution center that is responsible for handling all distribution to Beijing. For distribution purposes, the city is broken down into 16 districts.

Seventy-eight call center representatives call retailers, take orders and log the information into a computer for processing.  There is a five-carton minimum for orders. Each person averages calling 100 retailers a day, and 6,000 to 8,000 cartons are sold each day.

Members of the trade mission's tobacco team look at the chopped tobacco headed down the line.

One of the most fascinating things about the facility was the recreation area for workers. Workers in the plant have an hour lunch break in which they can eat or work out in the recreation area. In addition to treadmills and weights, the area also includes billiards and snooker tables, table tennis and even a one-player  table tennis table so workers can practice returning serves.

A China Tobacco employee demonstrates how to hit a ping pong ball on the table in the company break room.

Computerization allows the company to monitor and track many phases of production.

Thursday marked the end of the Beijing leg of the trade mission. Members of the cotton, soybean and wheat teams departed for Hong Kong and Vietnam.

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