DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Nissei ASB Machine Co. Ltd. is investing $38.5 million to build plants in India and China that will more than double its capacity to make single-stage blow molding machines.
The planned facilities are the 20-year-old firm's first outside Japan, said Bob Blakeborough, European technical manager for British subsidiary Nissei ASB Ltd. The moves were prompted by strong demand for Nissei's PF- and PB-series bottle-making machines, combined with the firm's desire to secure lower-cost manufacturing, he said in an Oct. 24 interview at the K'98 show in Dusseldorf.
ASB is investing $26 million to build a factory near Mumbai, India, that will manufacture complete blow molding machines, molds and component parts for the rest of the group. The first phase of construction was completed in September and ASB is commissioning toolroom equipment now. Known as ASB International Pvt. Ltd., the new Indian operation will employ about 200 when it begins full production next summer.
Blakeborough lavished praise on the skill levels of India's engineers, noting that for the past two years ASB has paid 52 Indian engineers to live and work at the parent company in Japan. Those workers will transfer back to India. Japanese and Europeans will make up about 10 percent of the Indian company's staff, Blakeborough said.
Additionally, ASB in July won Chinese government approval to invest $12.5 million to build an assembly plant in an economic development zone five miles from Shanghai International Airport. That facility will source components from both India and Japan, Blakeborough said. Shanghai ASB Machine Co. Ltd., as that unit is known, already is supplying technical support to customers in China from an interim office. It is to begin production by the end of 1999, when it should employ about 120.
The two expansions will double Nissei ASB's current work force of about 330, and will put the number of Japanese workers in the firm in the minority by the end of 1999, Blakeborough said.
ASB has been active in the Chinese market for more than 15 years, with an agency in Hong Kong and, beginning a few years ago, its own office in Beijing.
``That showed us the potential,'' he said.
Nissei ASB reported record sales of about 17 billion yen ($145 million) for the 1998 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Blakeborough said. He said sales activity in North America, aided by a favorable currency exchange rate, had been stronger than expected. The firm operates a sales and service office, Nissei ASB Co., in Atlanta.
ASB is aiming for corporate sales of 20 billion yen in its 1999 fiscal year, Blakeborough said.
Separately, the Japanese parent firm also is undergoing the first change of top management in its two-decade history. Founder and majority shareholder Daiichi Aoki on Oct. 1 resigned his posts of president and managing director, and Ichiro Mizuuchi was promoted to president, representative director and chief executive officer.