The East-West connection
Some Taiwan and Canadian moldmakers are opting for cooperation instead of competition
June 1, 2001 by Cindy Macdonald, associate editor
While Asian moldmakers are generally viewed as a competitive threat, many of the Taiwanese moldmakers exhibiting at Plast-Ex and Mould Source last month professed an interest in forming partnerships with their Canadian peers.
The idea has both precedent and merit.
M2M International Ltd. (Wallaceburg, ON) is a Tier 2 supplier of automotive molds which has a number of strategic alliances with moldmakers and service providers in Taiwan, Singapore, the United States and Germany.
“The standard for delivery times is going down, from 20 weeks to 12 weeks,” reports Jason Lamb, project engineer with M2M International. “We are seeing a market trend toward having tooling built overseas because the delivery times are shorter.”
Y.C. Lin speculates that cultural differences are part of the reason Taiwanese moldmakers are able to reduce delivery times. Lin is general manager of Hon Yi Steel Mold Co., Ltd. (Taipei, Taiwan), one of M2M International’s partner organizations.
“Undoubtedly, labor is cheaper in Taiwan, and that is an advantage. But the lifestyle is also different. Our people are willing and able to work overtime when needed, and we have a culture of continuous learning.”
Lin is hopeful the affiliation with M2M International will bring more automotive business to Hon Yi. Much of the moldmaker’s current output is destined for consumer products.
F.Y. Lee, president of En Jinn Industrial Co. Ltd., agrees that Taiwan-based companies have an advantage over Canadian suppliers on matters of cost and delivery time. He notes that his company has flexibility among its workforce to speed up deliveries when necessary. The En Jinn Group consists of several moldmaking and injection molding operations in Taiwan and China, plus a sales affiliate in the U.S.
Familiar tools facilitate global partnerships
The global availability of software platforms and moldmaking components has certainly aided the growth of international ventures.
Literature from Taiwan Mold Tool Co., Ltd. (Taipei, Taiwan) notes that moldmaking in Taiwan now uses much of the same equipment as is found in North American operations. The company sources steel from the U.S., uses D-M-E components, and chooses hot runners from internationally known suppliers.
Similarly, En Jinn’s moldmaking operations use Autodesk, Pro/E, Mastercam, DUCT and Cimatron for CAD/CAM functions, and Charmilles, Makino and Sodick machines on the shop floor.
Hon Yi’s engineering department has AutoCAD, DUCT, Pro/E, Cimatron, Micro CADAM and CATIA, and the company uses standard components from Incoe, Mold-Masters, D-M-E and Hasco.
What’s in it for them?
While the Taiwanese firms bring concrete cost savings and reduced delivery times to the table, their North American partners can offer the intangible benefits of proximity to and familiarity with large North American OEMs.
Steady Stream Business Co., Ltd. (Kaohsiung, Taiwan) specializes in high precision moldmaking and injection molding. General manager Fiona Chang says she exhibited at Mould-Source with cooperation in mind, because it would be a benefit to have a partner in closer proximity to North American clients.
With its strategic partners, M2M International sometimes performs a project management role. Jason Lamb often personally oversees key phases of mold production in Taiwan.
(More information on Taiwan’s moldmaking industry can be found at www.tmdia.org.tw, the Web site of the Taiwan Mold & Die Industry Association.)