SINGAPORE — Units of Xaloy Inc., Piovan SpA and Fast Heat Inc. are investing in Asian operations, according to contacts at the ASEANplas trade show, held March 23-26 in Singapore.
Components manufacturer Xaloy of Pulaski, Va., said it is starting up its new, US$18 million Chon Buri, Thailand, plant.
Trial runs of machine barrels begin in early April and screws by late June, according to Veera Kwanloetchit, managing director of Xaloy Asia (Thailand) Ltd. Full operation is scheduled by July.
To start, Xaloy expects to hire 80, including 56 shop workers, in two shifts at the 29,000-square-foot facility. Southeast Asia's economic woes worked to Xaloy's benefit in recruiting talent.
The plant will make nitride-treated and bimetallic barrels and screws of chrome-plated tool steel and hard-faced constructions. Xaloy plants in the United States and Europe will continue to supply large components.
Shipments from the port of Chonburi reach Yokohama, Japan, in seven days, providing Xaloy units to Japanese makers of molding and extrusion equipment.
Equipment supplier Piovan is using ``this period of crisis to get organized'' and invest in Southeast Asia, Alberto Piovan said in an interview at the firm's exhibit. Piovan is vice president of international operations and a grandson of the founder of the Santa Maria di Sala, Italy, company.
Specifically, Piovan Asia Pte. Ltd. is investing in human resources and now employs 11 in Singapore, said unit General Manager Franco Omodei. Piovan began distributing auxiliary and ancillary equipment to the Asian market in 1988 and established a Singapore presence in 1996.
Now, Piovan is considering an office in China.
``We already have installations in China and travel there frequently,'' Omodei said.
Agents cover Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines and Hong Kong.
As a plastics industry supplier, Piovan makes standard machines, PET packaging systems, optical-disc auxiliaries and, since a 1997 acquisition, software monitoring systems.
The company finds strength in the optical-disc replication market in Taiwan and Hong Kong and evidence of other optical-disc growth in Malaysia and China, Omodei said.
The 65-year-old firm employs 409, including 343 in Italy. Worldwide sales jumped 32 percent in 1998 to 112 billion Italian lire (US$64.5 million). The firm commits 5 percent of sales to research and development and employs 32 design engineers.
The Singapore unit of Fast Heat Inc. boosted unit deliveries by 15 percent but was limited to a 3 percent increase in sales in 1998, Tan Hock Siew said in an interview.
``We were fortunate with more volume of sales despite the [Asian economic] crisis,'' said Tan, an equity owner and managing director of Fast Heat Southeast Asia Pte. Ltd. ``Sales volume is high, but the profit margin is low.''
In addition to Singapore, the sales and service operation handles orders from China, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Malaysia and oversees a Hong Kong distributor. Multinational companies account for 60 percent of the business.
``Half of our orders here are going to Mexico'' to accompany Singapore-made molds, he said.
Tan said 1998 sales approached US$2 million, with about 70 percent from hot-runner systems, 25 percent from controllers and 5 percent from elements and sensors. Fast Heat Inc. makes the units in Elmhurst, Ill., where the company is based.
The crisis prompted more mold orders from the United States.
``The more tooling they make, the more systems they buy from us,'' Tan said. ``With every new tool, we have a chance to sell a system.''