CHICAGO (Oct. 2, 5:20 p.m. EDT) — Malaysian thermoforming equipment maker Epsol Machinery Sdn Bhd is setting up a manufacturing joint venture in China to cut costs and attempt to break into that market.
Pulau Pinang, Malaysia-based Epsol will begin manufacturing thermoforming machines at the Suzhou, China, joint venture next month with a local partner that Epsol executives declined to identify.
Executive Director Rene Doel said at NPE 2006 in Chicago that Epsol makes about two machines a month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Chinese venture will boost Epsol's output to as many as eight machines monthly, he said.
The company specializes in thermoforming machines for making surfboards and polystyrene foam shipping pallets, but it also manufactures general-purpose machines.
“There is going to be more demand,” Doel said. “People are looking at different ways of manufacturing existing products.”
Wood shipping pallets, for example, face new fumigation standards to control insects, so the industry is looking closer at the PS pallets, he said. The PS pallets are used to ship such equipment as computer hard drives.
Also, thermoformed surfboards could replace less environmentally friendly products made with fiberglass, Doel said. Epsol also is marketing its machines to the automotive industry.
“With manufacturing in Asia, we can compete with machines in the United States or Europe, with a little bit of an advantage pricewise,” he said.
Epsol was launched last year by Australian investors with thermoforming and equipment backgrounds. The company's engineering and design hub is in Australia and it can supply thermoforming tooling in Malaysia through a partnership with mold maker Legion Tooling Solutions Sdn Bhd of Penang, Doel said.
Epsol estimates its joint venture in Suzhou will employ 30, he said. Epsol employs 12 in Pulau Pinang.