CHICAGO (July 11, 4 p.m. EDT) — In a few months, Shenzhen, China-based Silver Basis Industrial Development Co. Ltd. will begin prototyping work — a rarity in China.
The company's American partners, Elite Mold and Engineering and Elite Plastic Products Inc. of Detroit, specialize in prototyping and low-volume tooling and molding. The 3-year-old partnership between Silver Basis and Elite has brought substantial growth to both firms.
“We provide low-cost tooling, molding and assembly and Elite offers technical support on the ground in the States,” Ryan Huang, vice general manager of Silver Basis, said at NPE 2006, held June 19-23 in Chicago.
Silver Basis has a 323,000-square-foot plant in Shenzhen, with a workforce of more than 1,000. It expects annual sales to grow to $125 million within five years, up from $25 million today.
About 60 engineers operate the company's researcj and development center.
Silver Basis exports 20 percent of its products to the United States, and the share will go up to 30 percent this year.
“We work closely work the customers here, offering technical support and full service,” said Joseph Mandeville, vice president of Elite. Elite sends quality-assurance personnel, who are trained in North America, to its Asian office and oversees the tool-building and tryout process in Shenzhen.
Elite Mold & Engineering employs 25 and Elite Plastics Products employs the same number in Detroit.
“We also take responsibility for final mold qualifying and tool adjustment,” Mandeville said.
Major U.S. customers include General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp.
Silver Basis exports 80 percent of its molds to the U.S., Europe and Japan. But the company does injection molding too, mostly supplying Chinese operations of foreign companies, including the medical business of General Electric Co., Black & Decker, Key Safety and Autoliv.
To supply its largest and fastest-growing market — the auto industry — Silver Basis is opening a 270,000-square-foot new plant in Tianjin, doubling its production capacity. Huang said the new site will rely heavily on automation, but still will add 150 jobs.
Tianjin is becoming an auto production center in China, with Toyota, Honda, BMV, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen manufacturing there.
The new plant will be completed by the end of this year and production of large auto parts will start at the beginning of 2007.
Meanwhile, Silver Basis and Elite may establish a joint venture, but details are still being worked out.
“Chinese mold makers are moving toward high-value-added products,” Huang said. “We are learning a lot from our partner Elite, in terms of technology, management and marketing.”
Silver Basis also has formed similar partnerships with firms in France and Japan.