Anura Plastic Engineering Corp. of Baldwin Park, Calif., is tapping into the burgeoning market for medical devices in China by opening a manufacturing joint venture in Shenzhen.
The company, which does business as APEC, will start production March 1 in a 35,000-square-foot factory with a Class 100,000 clean room. The plant will mold high- and midvolume medical components including catheters, blood oxygenators, needle-access devices, intravenous components and safety syringes.
The company said it has been shipping medical parts to Asia for the past four years and saw the opportunity to serve high-end Chinese hospitals with locally manufactured components.
``Asia has become an essential market for us and for our customers,'' said President Anura Welikala. ``China is becoming one of the largest markets for luxury products in the world, and high-end medical products fit into that category.''
Among APEC's existing customers, 70 percent are based in the United States, with others in China, Singapore, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The Chinese plant will start with 12 Toyo electric injection presses with clamping forces of 55-200 metric tons. Four presses will be added during a second phase. All the auxiliary equipment also will be supplied by Japanese manufacturers.
The plant will start with 100 workers on three shifts. While the factory will be automated, Welikala said ``the goal is to transfer labor-intensive assembly work from the states to China.''
APEC expects to trim half of its labor cost by manufacturing in China. Savings also could come from sourcing raw materials that are produced locally by multinational resin makers and compounders in China.
APEC, a $14 million molder that started 10 years ago, owns 75 percent of the Shenzhen operation. Minority owners include Chinese businessman Victor Tsui of Asia Optical Co. Inc. and operations Vice President Bob Desiata, who will oversee the Asian facility. Desiata has extensive industry experience in China with Nypro Tooling Suzhou Co. Ltd. and Flextronics International Ltd. in China.
Asia Optical is helping to set up the facility, recruit and train workers, and is helping on the administrative end, Welikala said.
APEC also expanding U.S. headquarters
In addition to the Chinese joint venture, APEC also is increasing capacity at its headquarters. The company plans to add 21 injection presses within the next two years, bringing the total number to 70.
The manufacturing space at present is 72,000 square feet, but there is 25,000 square feet available for future expansion.
Sister company Magor Mold Inc. employs 65 toolmakers in a 30,000-square-foot facility in San Dimas, Calif. It provides in-house design and mold making for APEC. Magor will approve mold designs for the Shenzhen operation, according to Wolfgang Buehler, Magor's president.
Buehler said Magor plans to open a mold-maintenance facility in China, ``somewhere close to APEC Asia,'' within six months. The company also will consider manufacturing tooling in China.