Integrated systems efforts growing for Taiwan's Fu Chun Shin

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Steve Toloken Benjamin Lee and Christine Kuo

Taiwanese injection press maker Fu Chun Shin Machinery Manufacture Co. Ltd. (Hall 8B/A24-2) sees selling integrated systems of molding machines, robots and other auxiliaries, with FCS bringing it all to the customer, as one of its key paths forward.

The Tainan City-based company, which is Taiwan's largest injection molding machine maker, is using the K 2013 to introduce its latest SD-SV series, a 150-ton model integrated with a robot and other auxiliary equipment.

Beyond K, the company is also taking a "serious" look at investments outside its base in Taiwan and mainland China, likely Brazil or Indonesia. And it hopes to substantially ramp up sales in North America after signing a partnership last year with Maruka USA.

But its immediate focus at K will be on pushing its integrated systems.

"We are emphasizing turnkey solutions for our customers so this time in K we are showing a whole system, including the machine, mold, robot, conveyer system and even the cutting machine," said John Hsieh, area manager for the company.

"It's really strongly connected with customer behavior," he said. "For the past few years customers want to buy all their solutions from one supplier."

Such integrated systems make up 40 percent of the company's annual revenues of about $100 million, a significant jump from about 20 percent of turnover five years ago, when the company introduced its first in-mold labeling system.

At the time, much of its efforts focused around selling machines and molds, with not nearly as much attention paid to other extras like robots.

Today it wants to build partnerships with a broader range of equipment manufacturers but said it's unlikely to make those auxiliaries in-house, as some larger European competitors have done.

"We will not buy a company [and] we will not build a department by ourselves," Hsieh said. "Basically we would like to work with our suppliers, maybe a joint venture or maybe we can buy their stock. We'll cooperate in this way."

"We understand our situation," he said. "We cannot compete with Chinese machine makers on the cost side. We can only compete with them on our flexibility, on new developments and making our machines more stable than before."

At K, the company's servo-powered SD-SV machine will be molding an iPhone holder made with PMMA, with a 120-second cycle time.

The machine's Japanese servo and pump-switching control technology means it uses 40 percent less energy compared to traditional molding machines "when used under ideal conditions," FCS said. It said the long cycle time is meant to highlight the machine's energy-saving capabilities.

The iPhone holder is made with a highly-transparent grade of PMMA and it's manufactured without yellowing or bubbles, FCS said, to illustrate the machine's precise molding capabilities, including its unique screw design.

The SD-SV series is targeted at markets like housewares, food containers and car parts. The company hopes the new machines can help it navigate the ups-and-downs of the economy.

Its orders in the fourth quarter dropped, a casualty of slowdowns in global markets, including in China. It entered this year expecting more difficulties but found a pickup from an unexpected place – its local market in Taiwan.

"We got lots of orders from the Taiwan market," Hsieh said.

Some of that, he said, comes from local auto parts aftermarket companies.

FCS believes that its investments in developing better two-platen machines are paying off, as Taiwanese auto parts companies that previously would have looked to more established overseas suppliers of two-platens are now more comfortable with FCS designs, Hsieh said.

FCS said it has sold two-platen models worldwide, including in India, Brazil, China and Taiwan, and is trying to carve out a niche making its machines more customizable and lower-cost than other two-platen models.

They also found sales have been helped by more Taiwanese companies relocating their production from mainland China to Taiwan, as costs rise in China, Hsieh said.

"We have some information that maybe some Taiwan companies move back from China to Taiwan," he said.

FCS is also focused on growth outside mainland China and Taiwan. The company is considering additional investment in Brazil or Indonesia, beginning with a service center that could be expanded to a factory.

While details remain undecided it's a "serious" evaluation, Hsieh said.

The company currently has one factory in Taiwan and two in mainland China, with capacity to make more than 1,000 machines a year.

FCS is also trying to make a much bigger push into North America, where it last year struck an agreement with Maruka USA to sell FCS hydraulic machines in the United States and part of Mexico.

Maruka USA, which is part of Osaka, Japan-based Maruka Machinery Co. Ltd., has historically focused on selling presses from Japan's Toyo Machinery and Metal Co. Ltd.

FCS said the two companies believe they can sell about 150 FCS machines a year in North America by 2016, including within the supply chain of Japanese companies there who may be looking for other options, said FCS Director Benjamin Lee.

So far the two companies have sold 16 machines and 48 sets of molds, he said. The 48 sets of molds went to one Japanese customer's factory in Mexico.

"North America is not like Japan," Lee said. "In Japan, the injection molding machine maker, maybe 99 percent of the machines they produce are fully-electric machines. Even if they want to mold a bowl or a cup, they will use an electric machine."

But not so in North America, he said. He said the two companies have moved slowly to build their partnership.

"Maruka is a Japanese-style company – they are very careful with their reputation and machine quality," Lee said. "After 2012 and 2013, we think we are ready now to promote our machines with more energy in the North American area."