Taipei, Taiwan — Tainan, Taiwan-based extrusion and bag-making machinery manufacturer Lung Meng Machinery Co. Ltd. is bucking cross-straits headwinds.
Taiwan's exports of plastics and rubber machinery to mainland China slid 37.1 percent last year, to $222.9 million, according to the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry. Yet the mainland remains one of Lung Meng's most loyal markets, buying more than 30 machines every year, general manager Richard Chen said. Chen attributes the appeal to the speed and reliability of Lung Meng machinery.
Industry 4.0 may have been a key talking point at the TaipeiPlas kickoff news conference, but for Lung Meng, such futuristic talk takes distinctly humble forms.
“We're now releasing all our machines with screen [controls] to make them operator-friendly,” Chen said. The company also offers remote monitoring. In one case, company engineers were able to figure out remotely that a South African customer's problems stemmed from a fluctuating power supply from the electrical grid.
On display at Lung Meng's TaipeiPlas booth were a TA-1000IPD-XL bag-making machine that can produce 280 0.5-meter bags every minute and an LE-ABA three-layer blown-film machine with inline two-color printer. This 7-meter-high machine can churn out 150 kilograms of film per hour.
While Lung Meng began offering 7-layer machines three years ago, three-layer machines remain more popular with customers. The company will display a three-layer machine at the K show in Düsseldorf, Germany, this October, in Hall 16, booth D55.
“It's quite surprising — the customers are using three-layer to replace five-layers,” Chen said. “Five layers is quite rare now.”
Its bag machines are easily customizable to make a variety of clothing, shopping and food bags. “The customer can make any kind of bag with a simple solution,” Chen said.
Lung Meng's big problem right now might be that it is too popular. “I'm quite shy to say this, but we are actually overloaded with orders. This week and next week I'm flying overseas [to Vietnam] for some really big orders. Our biggest challenge is to complete these orders in the designated amount of time.”
Still, the 40-year-old company is cautious, with no expansion plans on the table just yet. Striking a note that will sound familiar to mainland HR directors, Chen said that finding, training and retaining labor is a big challenge for the company, which currently has a little more than 100 workers.
“It's really hard to hire young people. Sometimes we train them one year and then they leave,” Chen said. The company plans to incentivize workers with bonuses tied to key performance indicators.