Tianjin Emaging Technology has become China's first exporter of magnetic levitation or maglev blowers to the United States.
Praxair, a Fortune 500 U.S. company based in New York state, which specializes in industrial gases, has decided to adopt Emaging's products and use them in Asia, Europe and the U.S..
A maglev blower uses magnetic bearings and high-tech to compress and transport air to the desired place in an energy-saving and environmentally friendly way.
Such blowers find applications in waste water and solid waste treatment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and food production sectors.
Praxair's decision to source maglev blowers from Emaging Tech follows an unsatisfactory experience with previous suppliers from Europe.
Praxair used to invest massive amounts of time and money in the research and development of special-purpose maglev blowers. Its previous suppliers could provide only part of the solutions, the company said.
A Chinese-born engineer working with Praxair found information about Emaging's high-performance products online and contacted Hong Shenping, the Tianjin company's chairman, last year. Tests followed. Eventually, Praxair found Emaging's products to its liking.
Hong declined to share the Praxair deal size and other details citing confidentiality. He, however, said the deal is not much of a surprise, given that Emaging is the top player in the field in China, in terms of revenue and technology.
"We won the (Praxair) order not due to the low costs. We wouldn't worry that the (China-U.S.) trade tension may result in a tariff hike on our blowers. We'll increase the price accordingly, if necessary."
Emaging Tech's data show the company's revenue from maglev blowers was 150 million yuan ($23.8 million) last year, which made it No 1 in China.
This year, the figure is expected to surge by 50 percent, according to Hong. "Currently, exports account for a minor part of Emaging's revenue, but the exports to U.S. represent a significant step for the sector and the company."
Maglev products account for less than 10 percent of China's blowers. Globally, the technology is considered to be nascent. Other types of conventional blowers, which are low on technology but consume high power, account for a major part of the segment.
"The magnetic levitation blower is the future of this segment due to its high performance and lower energy cost," Hong said.
Currently, Germany-based Piller and Finland-based ABS are market leaders in this field. Chinese companies are relatively less known in the global market for blowers. China's maglev blower exports are on a small scale, with some presence in Asian countries.
"Looking forward, export growth will face challenges such as the need to build both brands and customer trust," Hong said.
Another challenge could be production expansion for Emaging and other Chinese companies.
Emaging's biggest domestic rival, Nanjing-based Magnetic Valley, had announced it would build a production center in Guizhou province, to expand its market presence.
Emaging itself has evolved from 2006. Earlier, its focus was on making maglev bearings, high-speed motors and generators, high-frequency drivers, vacuum molecular pumps and conventional blowers.
Over the last three years, the company spent 150 million yuan on R&D of maglev blowers. Foreseeing a bright future for maglev technology, it has beefed up investment in magnetic refrigerator-compressors and air compressors, spending up to 1 billion yuan on each segment, Hong said.