I covered the super-hero status of China Agritech's staff in a previous post. To recap the Anhui plant of this company - according to company filings - manufactures 100 thousand (metric) tonnes per annum of dry fertilizer. My estimate (again based on the corporate accounts) is that the plant uses just over $2 million in capital equipment and somewhere between 30-40 staff to do this.
100 thousand tonnes is 2.5 million 40kg bags of fertilizer. This fertilizer has to be manufactured (something that normally requires some plant), put into bags, have the bags sewn shut and then loaded onto trucks. These staff may look like Clark Kent - but underneath their clothing are men-of-steel - men who ordinary companies cannot hope to match.
This is the land of superhuman staff. Remember 2.5 million bags per year is 17.4 bags per minute, 8 hours per day, 300 days per year.
This is a photo of some trucks. Obviously it contains none of our super-heros but it gives you a scale of what they load. Assuming the trucks carry 60 tonnes they have to load 1666 of these per year - say 5.5 per day based on a 300 day year. Maybe 5 per day if there are more than 300 working days per year.
This is just another photo of the trucks. The number plate has been pixelated. However we can begin to get an estimate of how many bags go on a truck. This looks like about 20 bags high, 15 bags long and 4 bags wide (ie 1200 bags) plus another few hundred bags on top. Call it 1500 bags. That is my 60 tonnes.
Note the bags on the trucks are not sitting on pallets suggesting fork lifts were not the main way of loading this truck.
This is our first photo inside the plant. We see some bags on the ground (no pallets). We also see an a loading chute and an industrial sewing machine with two (large) white spindles. These are used to sew the bags closed. In all the photos we only see this machine so if the needle breaks or the thread runs out we stop loading. Moreover we do not see good automated ways of handling the bags around the sewing machines which suggests the bags are lifted up.
Now we see two of our superheros - strangely standing on a pallet - but putting bags on the ground. Thees bags are clearly labelled China Agritech (note there are no such labels on the bags on the truck).
The superhero on the left has his back arched. He has clearly not seen any of the literature on the correct way to lift heavy loads - if he were an ordinary person he would be stuffed within hours of this work-pace - but he is a superhero (along with all the other Chinese superheros).
In Photo 5 we eventually see a forklift. The bags are not on pallets on the truck - but they are lifted up to the truck level using pallets and forklifts. This will of course reduce the workload our heroes face. So far the time-and-motion study is peculiar. The fertilizer is manufactured in a part of the plant we can't see. It is taken by conveyor belt to a loading chute and then - by hand - moved to an industrial sewing machine. The loaded bags are stacked on the floor. They are then re-stacked onto pallets and then moved by fork-lift to truck level. (I point out that most factories have an elevated loading deck so that all the heavy stuff starts at the level of the loading tray of the truck.) After that they are taken off the pallets to be loaded onto the truck (presumably by hand). (I presume they loaded the trucks in the first two photos - though we should note that the labels of the bags disappear...)
Photo 6 we have one pallet load being moved by a forklift. All the rest of the super-heroes are standing around. I remain puzzled as to why the other bags are not on pallets - after all I presume the too will also be moved by a forklift. [There is an alternative explanation - which is that the bags are being delivered to the Ptomkin Village by forklift... that would explain why in photo 4 we mysteriously see bags being taken off the pallets by our superheroes. However that explanation does not hold up - because in this photo people are milling around the sewing machine - and they look to be sewing up a bag.]
Photo 7 proves the point that the sewing machine and loading facility is being used. The dropping of fertilizer into the bags (understandably) creates dust. Our staff must work in that dust - and so now they have donned dust masks. They must however sweep this factory incessantly because there is no big piles of dust on the floor - limited footprints and the like.
We also see - for the first time - a tool which explains our heroes amazing productivity - a lifting trolley. Its a pretty simple one - but hey - its a tool. Maybe our heroes are human after all.
There was no photo 8 on the website so we skip to photo 9.
Interestingly the bags have all changed color and there are lots more of them. They are loaded onto some dolly-intermediate size truck whereupon they will need to be loaded onto the main truck. The handsome Adonis capable of all this heavy listing are absent.
Our handsome Adonis is back. He is putting a bag on the pallet - or is he taking it off the pallet. Anyway it is yet another piece of manual handling of heavy bags. Still he is strong - and he must be amazingly productive.
There are several more superheroes in the background. They are also fiddling with bags - but none is actually lifting.
Finally we now have two lots of bags - one yellow with a hard to read logo - the other white with no logo. The stuff on the ground (and coming out of the white bags) is black whereas the dust in the other room is white. Obviously we are dealing with multiple products here.
Photo 11 is missing - so we jump straight to photo 12.
We have a fully laden truck we are now moving away. This one contains bags with the China Agritech logos on them. Again the bags are lifted to truck level using a forklift - but they are loaded onto the truck without pallets.
We are back in the factory. Some bags are on pallets. Some are not. The white dust that required dust masks is gone attesting to the efficiency with which this plant is cleaned.
This plant represents half of the dry fetilizer the company produces - and a substantial portion of the company revenue.
The stock price of China Agritech has fallen from 30 dollars to 8 dollars (with most that fall happening before any shortseller went public about their concerns). The market cap is still 165 million dollars.
If you look at the equipment and plant shown in these slides you do not see anything that looks like even 5 million dollars - let alone a substantial fraction of the market cap. But that is not what you are buying.
You are buying Adonis - nah - Adonis times 105 (the total manufacturing staff of the company). No workers anywhere in the world demonstrate this sort of productivity.
Market cap of the company: 165 million dollars
Value of the plant: not very much
Owning your bit of 105 Adonis: Priceless.