Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the ASEANplas 99 trade show, held March 23-26 in Singapore.
LNP growing rapidly in Southeast Asia
Despite the economic situation, Southeast Asia is the fastest-growing region for LNP Engineering Plastics Inc., said William Feldman, marketing manager for business machines and electronics.
``In 1998, Southeast Asia accounted for about 20 percent of our business, growing at a rate of 15 percent to 20 percent,'' he said.
He contrasted the growth with the United States market, where he said sales are relatively flat. Most of the Exton, Pa., company's customers are based in the United States.
New customers allowed LNP to grow in the region ``at a time when our customers were flat,'' he said.
``All [products] are being developed in the U.S. and moved here for production, largely in Singapore,'' he said.
The company is cutting costs by moving work to China and Malaysia.
LNP's plant in Kuala Selangor, Malaysia, which opened in 1995, was expanded last year.
``We are filled up again,'' he said.
About 60 percent of the business machines and electronics are destined for the U.S. market, 30 percent for Europe and 10 percent for Southeast Asia. The Asian economic crisis caused LNP to ``lose a big chunk of that 10 percent,'' Feldman said.
``We got hit by just the personality of the downturn.''
LNP sales and marketing employs half a dozen people in Singapore and is ``getting more active in Taiwan,'' he said.
Nissei electric press doing well in Japan
Economic woes limit Nissei's sales of all-electric injection molding presses in most of Asia, but Tsukasa Yoda expects the energy-saving units to account for as much as 30 percent of the firm's Japan machine sales this year.
The electric presses accounted for about 20 percent of the firm's 1998 Japan press sales, after rising from a ``few percent'' in the previous year, Yoda said through an interpreter. Yoda is in his 10th year as president of Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd.
Yoda said Fanuc Ltd. and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. are Japanese companies with a range of electrics in addition to Nissei.
Very few electric presses are located in Southeast Asia, Yoda said.
``The economy is not so good,'' but that market is improving, he added.
Yoda anticipates electrics' popularity to increase gradually. Now, most Asian inquiries involve the less-expensive hydraulic presses, he said. Operators are more familiar with open-loop hydraulic systems than the closed-loop, performance-data-transmitting, electric models.
At ASEANplas, a Nissei 40-ton electric, listed at about US$75,600, molded a connector of liquid-crystal polymer, and a Nissei 7-ton electric, which cost about $56,300, molded a gear of acetal copolymer. Two hydraulic units operated nearby.
Nissei has 16 operations and agent locations in nine Asian countries, in addition to its head office and factory in Nagano, Japan.
Hemscheidt GmbH scores Asian deals
HPM Hemscheidt GmbH of Schwerin, Germany, by early April plans to ship three injection molding machines to a Malaysian plant making plastic pipes and fittings.
An undisclosed Singapore customer placed the order, said Manfred Kersten, managing director.
In addition, Kersten was working to nail down an order for ``a big turnkey project.'' HPM Hemscheidt has shipped machines to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in Asian deals.
Hemscheidt went into bankruptcy in late 1996, was acquired by HPM Corp. of Mount Gilead, Ohio, in 1997 and continued reorganizing and setting up sales representatives into mid-1998.
``Before HPM took over, Hemscheidt was practically out of business for a certain time,'' he said. ``Right now, we are set worldwide again. We are trying to get old customers back, and get new customers.''
Now, the parent firm sells Hemscheidt hydraulic and tie-barless machines in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the German unit handles all other markets with help from long-time representative Terramar GmbH of Hamburg, Germany, and others.
As for the company's participation in ASEANplas, ``nobody had big hopes'' for the exhibition, but it is ``important to show the flag in bad times,'' he said.
``Maybe some customers will remember us.''
Atech Molds wubs cell phone contract
A United Kingdom customer has asked a Singapore mold maker to establish an operation to injection mold cellular telephone housings.
Atech Molds Manufacturing Pte. Ltd. plans to order four presses and begin molding operations by July for the undisclosed customer, according to marketing director Henry Loong.
``Manpower is ready,'' he said.
Atech employs 48 and occupies 8,000 square feet.