Taipei, Taiwan — Some of the world's largest global brands in plastics equipment are aggressively targeting the small but muscular Taiwanese market.
Germany's Arburg GmbH, Austria's Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH and China's Haitian International Holdings Ltd. all had booths at the recent Taipei Plas trade show.
A leading draw: key purchasing decisions made by multinationals headquartered in the diminutive island, which is smaller than New Hampshire and Vermont together, but which occupies an outsized role in Asian manufacturing supply chains as the home base of contract manufacturers like Foxconn.
"We sell here but we ship to other countries," said Michael Huang, manager of Arburg's two-year-old branch in Taichung.
Taiwan is home to many OEMs and processors, primarily on the higher end, he said.
He estimated that about two-thirds of Arburg's Taiwanese customers plan to use their machines in Taiwan. Key markets are electronics, medical equipment and industrial.
"We don't just sell a machine you run yourself. We tell you how to run it and make your production smooth," Huang said.
With its extensive offerings of auxiliary equipment and robots from Kottingbrunn, Austria-based Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH takes a slightly different tact.
Its Taiwanese branch aims to get a foot in the door by supplying hoppers, dryers and other auxiliary equipment to the island's many processors and makers of injection-molding or extrusion machines, said Arthur Lai, sales rep for Wittmann Battenfeld (Taiwan) Co. Ltd.
"The first step is to sell the accessories and make a good impression," said Lai.
Wittmann Battenfeld's robots are also pricier than Taiwanese offerings, but have easy-to-program controller software, Lai said.
Wittmann Battenfeld's key markets in Taiwan include electronics, cosmetics packaging and medical packaging.
Selling the company's European made injection molding machines is a bit more of a challenge, Lai said.
"The delivery time is quite long. In this way, we cannot compete with the local machine makers," he said.
Both Arburg and Wittmann Battenfeld have their offices in Taichung, home to a large government-funded plastics industry research center and midway between the island's industrial epicenters around Taipei in the north and Tainan and Kaohsiung in the south.
At its booth, Arburg demonstrated a pair of injection molding machines from its Allrounder Golden Edition lines making smartphone components.
"In this small island, how can we survive compared with the mass production power of China?" Huang said. "We must be creative. So always, we demonstrate new technology, new processes, new materials to Taiwanese customers,"
Meanwhile, Haitian International Holdings Ltd., China's biggest maker of injection-molding equipment, is just getting its toe wet across the strait. The Ningbo-based company had its first-ever booth at the biennial show, said consultant Eric Lee.
"Our goal is to get our name out there and build brand awareness," said Lee.
He estimated that the company has 100 machines installed in Taiwan.