Pioneer Video Manufacturing Inc., a laser disc maker in Carson, Calif., plans to auction its older production equipment to make way for expansion into 5-inch digital video discs. Equipment to be sold at the Aug. 29 auction includes eight Meiki injection presses, vacuum metalizers, desiccant dryers, mold heaters and robot systems.
James Lance, executive vice president, said Pioneer kept the older equipment around to use for backup, but that it no longer meets new standards for manufacturing laser discs. He said Pioneer plans to add capacity to begin producing 5-inch CD-ROMs and the digital video disc, or DVD, format.
The first production module, an experimental system designed by Pioneer that uses a Sumitomo molding press, is coming on line soon. By January, the company will formulate a permanent production plan for its introduction into the DVD market.
The 300,000-square-foot Carson plant, which represents a $120 million investment for the company, produces 1 million laser discs per month. Lance rebutted industry comments that that market is declining, citing a 26 percent increase in hardware sales last year, and a 30 percent growth in Pioneer's software market share.
``We're still adding [movie] titles and now offer the new AC-3, six-track digital sound,'' he said.
Currently, Pioneer's laser disc library contains 8,500 titles and took 10 years to build.
Lance did admit, however, that the company has abandoned original plans to expand capacity to produce 8- and 12-inch laser discs, in favor of entering 5-inch DVD production.
``We're starting in the 5-inch business with quite a bit of caution,'' Lance said, referring to the format war between Time Warner/Toshiba and Sony/Philips. ``Eventually though, if the consumer accepts it, DVD will take over the market.''