Injection press giant Haitian International Holdings Ltd. is establishing it first subsidiary in Taiwan, against the backdrop of a further slowing economy in mainland China.
The wholly-owned subsidiary will be under Haitian's overseas business division Haitian Huayuan Co. Ltd. It's currently in the preparation stage, Executive Director and Chief Strategy Office Helmar Franz told Plastics News.
“The official inauguration will take place as soon as all related certificates and approvals are available,” he said. “We expect this to take another six weeks or so.”
The move aims to strengthen Haitian's direct communications with the Taiwan headquarters of many processors that manufacture on the mainland, Franz said.
“We would have an office for sales and service support and a very modern application center. It will also have some spare parts stock and very limited machine stock, mainly for test at customer sites including some customizing,” Franz said in an email correspondence.
One of the main goals, he said, is to support Taiwanese customers that have operations in mainland China.
“Uncomplicated mold tests, support test machines at the HQ factories of such customers, as well as training and application support,” he explained the main functions of the new branch.
The tactic of being close to customers' global headquarters has been tried and proven by Haitian's technical center in Odawara, Japan, according to Franz. It effectively reaches to the decision makers and raises customer confidence.
“By providing the abovementioned services in Japan, close to the HQ factories of the customers, we were able to significantly increase the confidence of Japanese customers operating overseas and also in Japan.” He added it was especially true with Haitan's Zhafir fully electric machines.
“This approach could be valid for Taiwanese molders, which represent a large group in the molding industry in mainland China,” he said.
All electric and two-platen machines, in particular, are Haitian's main target products for Taiwan.
The time is right to make the move in Taiwan, Franz said, as Haitian already has gained “significant market share” on the mainland with its all electric and two-platen presses.
While it's true that Taiwanese-owned factories represent a sizable share of molders in mainland China, Taiwan itself has a large plastic machinery industry. Taiwan is the world's fifth largest manufacturer of plastic and rubber machinery with $1.51 billion in sales, and — due to its relatively small domestic market — it's also the world's fourth largest exporter of such machinery.
Taiwanese press makers have long established production bases on the mainland, supplying Taiwanese-owned molding factories there, among other customers.
China's cooling market and overcapacity has been dampening the sales and squeezing the margins of leading molding machine makers.
One of the largest players, Chen Hsong Group of Hong Kong, reported a 12 percent sales slump in the second and third quarters of 2014. Facing high market saturation, it also decided to hold off on the start-up of its new factory in Shenzhen.
Chen Hsong has been operating in Taiwan since 1980. With more than 300 employees, it's now one of the largest injection press makers in Taiwan.
Commenting on the main challenges for further growth in the industry, Franz said one is the development of basic functions of injection molding — plasticizing, for instance — that make the process “difficult to control and still very energy consuming, even with electrical drives.”
The other challenge, he said, is to be open to “cross-technology,” which he defined as integrating other technologies of converting polymers into the molding process.
“In my opinion, there is much to do and great prospects for the further introduction of plastics applications to all [aspects] of our life,” he said, arguing against the notion of a lack of growth opportunities.
He reaffirmed Haitian's fundamental strategy of standardization. “We have been very successful with this strategy worldwide. At the first glance it may not be so spectacular, but it is very efficient.”
In addition to the upcoming Taiwan branch, Haitian also has subsidiaries in Brazil, Turkey, Vietnam, Germany, India, Japan, Russia and South Africa.