In response to the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid19), Ford Motor Company has announced that the company will be temporarily suspending vehicle and engine production at its International Markets Group (IMG) manufacturing sites which includes Vietnam.
In January 2020, Ford announced an expansion plan for its plant in Vietnam to increase annual production capacity from the current 14,000 to 40,000 vehicles, with an investment of US$82 million.
However, Ford Vietnam’s Hai Duong assembly plant has now been scheduled to stop operations by March 26—the first to do so in the country. This will continue for several weeks depending on the pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements.
Similarly, Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) has also temporarily halted vehicle production starting March 30—the second in Vietnam. According to TMV, the outbreak has impacted all aspects, from economy to society, including the automobile industry and resumption of production will be dependant on the outbreak situation, market demand, supply chain situation, the dealers’ stock and Government’s restriction regulation.
“We are taking necessary actions to protect their safety and health as well as minimising any impact on our company’s operation. While closely monitoring the situation, we will consider and make decisions guided by the direction from the Government,” said a representative from TMV.
According to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), sales of members decreased 26 percent to 31,908 in end of February due to the impact of Covid19. In particular, sales of passenger and commercial vehicles dipped 30 and 12 percent respectively due to changing consumer behaviour in light of the pandemic.
Karl Moessmer and Dirk Hund of Heimatec sound off on the company’s Thailand market and the opportunities they are seeing in the region. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
At the recent METALEX 2019 event in Bangkok, Thailand, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke with Karl Moessmer, regional manager for Singapore, and Dirk Hund, sales manager, at Heimatec, about the company’s Thailand market and the opportunities they are seeing in the region.
HOW LONG HAS THE COMPANY BEEN IN THAILAND AND HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS BEEN?
Dirk Hund (DH): Compared to Vietnam, Thailand is a better market for us so far. We have really good partnerships here, and projects are more promising. It is a more-developed market, that is why I think, it is a better situation here in Thailand as of the moment.
Karl Moessmer (KM): Our first exhibition was in 2011. Since then, we have participated in the same show until today, and we are going to continue this basis because we believe in the continuity of activities here.
As Dirk mentioned, we have now shaped a team that is quite reliable and performing in our interests. As far as the market potential is concerned, there is an increased investment flowing into Thailand. So that, among the Southeast Asian market, Thailand has a great potential for us in the next couple of years. There is no such thing as instant success—if you come in for a quick buck, you are wrong, because any place that is solidly growing is going to be there forever.
A quick success might not be continuing. This is why we believe in continuity. To see where our chances are, and come in with more professional support, that is our intention.
DH: And to set up the right strategy. You have to adjust the strategy, every year. It is still challenging, since it is a different country, different culture. You can’t compare it with other countries, especially in Southeast Asia. If you do not have a direct sales team here, everything will then rely on your partner—so you have to have the right partners in the country.
IN WHICH INDUSTRIES DO YOU SEE GROWTH HERE IN THAILAND?
KM: It is still the automotive industry, with some machine makers. We will have to see if they will continue to be automotive because of all the uncertainties with the electric vehicles. This might cause some hesitation with people interested in investment. We are here to survey the market to see what is coming up within the next couple of years.
We are of high hopes that we are still placed in a potential market, especially since we know that a lot of German manufacturers based in China are moving out and trying to establish themselves in some other markets in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, maybe Indonesia to some extent, will be benefitting from the reduction of the German investment, or European investment in China. This is why, I think, this is a good location to focus on.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY TRENDS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN THE MARKET?
DH: The whole topic of Industry 4.0—I think it’s a big step to go for manufacturers here and Southeast Asia as a whole. It is a big step in Europe, but I think we are in the early stages here.
I don’t know if people really know what is behind Industry 4.0. For big companies with many machineries, it is a trend already. Here, I think it is a small portion at the moment. We can offer tools for Industry 4.0, but I think it is still a long way to go, especially here in Asia.
KM: I think everybody is just in a sort of wait-and-see attitude. This is also affecting investments. Nobody knows in which direction the markets will move, and this is causing hesitation. This is why I think foreign direct investments (FDI) will not be as much as it has been in the past. So, we have nothing else in mind but to be around, survey the situation, and then adapt to however necessary.
IN OUR PAST DISCUSSION, YOU MENTIONED VIETNAM’S MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY IS SOMEHOW NOT MATURED YET IN RELATION TO HEIMATEC’S ADVANCED SOLUTIONS. IS IT THE SAME IN THAILAND?
KM: Thailand is a bit more advanced than Vietnam because they have experienced a long-term investment of Japanese and European companies. From that point on, they started to grow and develop. Also, in terms of technical knowledge, they are one, if not, two steps ahead of Vietnam. But Vietnam will upgrade themselves also. So, we have a lot of market studies to do to benefit from the move in the market.
DH: I can underline that. It is still, I think, the technology you have to offer. They are more advanced, yes, but still not on the high level.
KM: We cannot compare a European technical standard to the Southeast Asian standard, so, we should not move into the market with the wrong perception. This is why we have learned to be patient, and provide more support and assistance, because to handle a catalogue is not enough—this is not a wear-and-tear part, it’s not a consumable—this is an important part of a solution for a machining process.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
KM: There is no perfect solution. From my point of view, the only thing you can do is be present, observe the market, and stay in contact with your partners. Expect a good feedback from their side and try to realize whatever perception you have. There’s no other way around it. And nobody knows which the appropriate direction is to move—nobody.
Even the people who come here often do not know everything about Thailand. The market is always full of surprises. So, as long as the economical and political situations remain stable, we have a good perspective for the future. But you never know what is going to happen. That is why you have to be highly flexible.
Sales of domestically assembled vehicles increased 22 percent to 11,697 units while imported vehicle sales dropped four percent to 5,919 units.
The Vietnam government is implementing favourable policies to drive further growth in the automotive market in 2020. This includes removal of import tax for auto parts and reducing tax on domestically manufactured car components, which would help to reduce operational costs.
Other policies proposed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) includes lowering corporate income tax for auto industry and lower loan interest rates for purchasing of domestically manufactured vehicles.
Machine vision software provider MVTec Software GmbH is expanding its partner network in Southeast Asia by bringing on board two new distributors from Thailand and Vietnam, strengthening its strategic presence in these two important growth markets.
SP Vision Technology Co. Ltd of Samutprakarn, Thailand, specializes in powerful solutions for automated visual inspection and innovative robot control systems in the machine vision environment. This medium-sized company offers numerous machine vision technologies for a variety of applications and industries.
RTC Technology Viet Nam Joint Stock Company, headquartered in Hanoi, Vietnam, supplies comprehensive machine vision solutions, including expert consulting services for production companies and system integrators. The company’s service portfolio includes automation technologies such as embedded systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and robotics applications.
“We are pleased to welcome two important new partners to our global distribution network. Both are established companies with a solid portfolio of machine vision solutions. This will take our sales activities in Southeast Asia to a whole new level and strengthen our presence in the major growth markets of Thailand and Vietnam,” said Martin Krumey, Vice President of Sales at MVTec.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore provides his insights into and outlook for the Vietnam and Philippine metalworking industry.
Steve Bell is the general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd. In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), we talk about Renishaw’s activities, and his outlook on the metalworking industry markets of Vietnam and the Philippines.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO THIS INDUSTRY, GIVE US A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON RENISHAW.
Steve Bell (SB): Renishaw is a long-established UK company. Our core activities primarily involve inspection and manufacturing process control. We have many solutions and technologies which help to apply high levels of automation and connectivity to fit any manufacturing process. This in turn boosts the efficiency and quality of manufacturing. These include probes used to set up and inspect parts on machine tools, tool setters and advanced 5 axis probing systems designed to check dimensions of components on CMMs.
Our machine tool systems centre on methodologies to implement in-process control with the aim of increasing throughput and improving quality. We branch into other essential areas like calibration—we have many products connected with machine setup, because unless the machines are set up properly, no matter what you do, you will never make the products right. Our calibration products include the XK10 alignment laser used during machine build, the XL80 calibration laser system and the popular QC20W ball-bar employed to do regular health checks on machine performance.
Moving on, we have the Equator automated measuring gauge, which has been designed for use in a production environment. It is used for immediate checking of parts coming off a machine tool as an alternative to manual or custom gauging. Intelligent Process Control (IPC) allows Equator to inspect a part, gather data from the inspection and use that data to update the tool offsets on the machine tool controller to ensure that future parts stay in tolerance. That’s a very efficient way to manufacture, where you are not waiting for the end of the process to find out that something’s wrong; you are making sure parts stay correct all the way through the process.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING?
SB: Basically, everyone wants to make the best products as quickly as possible and as cost effectively as possible. That’s what’s driving the trends in the first place. And one of the significant trends that we are seeing is the drive towards automation. And the reason for automation, from a Renishaw point of view, is its main benefit—consistency of manufacturing.
Deploying automation, systems are programmed in advance, meaning intervention and the possibility of human error is minimised or eliminated.
So, for us, automation is about increasing throughput, but also getting that consistency, which in turn, leads to quality.
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE VIETNAM MARKET?
SB: The biggest challenge for the moment for us is that the market, after many years of being very buoyant, is now a little bit flat. A lot of this, I think, comes from international trade tensions; hopefully that is a relatively short-term problem, and things will get back on track.
But I think the longer-term prognosis is very good. We are going to see substantial growth here, particularly with a lot of manufacturing not necessarily moving out of China, but expanding beyond China, to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
WHAT ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
SB: We’ve been active in the Philippines for many years. In particularly, we’ve worked with MESCO, our distributor, for 20-plus years. Frankly speaking, in terms of Southeast Asia, the Philippine market for manufacturing and automation is starting from a fairly low base point compared to, let’s say, Thailand, or some other Southeast Asian countries. But having said that, it is also the fastest growing market in the region from that low base. So, for us, it is an important market to be involved with now, and to start to work with in the future as well.
In the Philippines, what we see are manufacturers of consumer goods arriving—a couple of big brands are already active here in the Philippines—we also see a growing market for automotive subcontractors; so those kinds of companies are interested to streamline their manufacturing, improve quality—the kind of things that we bring through our gauging and in-process products.
Regarding challenges, there have been quite a few over the years in the Philippines where the market has been very flat. But as I said, at this point in time, it is definitely a growing market. We can see a big potential for growth. There are manufacturing investments coming in from Europe, the United States, other parts of Asia, and very often, when these companies are investing and setting up new plants, they are starting from a greenfield site—they are not inheriting previous manufacturing systems. So, because of that, when they do come in, they start at the current level of technology—moving straight into the best practices of manufacturing today, utilising automation, making use of all the latest technologies that are available to them. For us, that’s very exciting.
HOW IS THE MARKET FOR 3D PRINTING OR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?
SB: That’s also a growing market from small beginnings in ASEAN. Singapore is definitely the leader in this technology for now.
Metal AM is very much a niche market at the moment in the Philippines. We hope to see some growth in the longer term.
The real growth in additive manufacturing will come when users start to think about using the technology for real production—not just design prototypes or research but manufacturing parts on a 24/7 basis—and we’re already seeing that now with some customers in Singapore. That trend is likely to spread out across Asia. In Singapore in particular, we are seeing opportunities in the oil and gas and aerospace sectors.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE INDUSTRY? ARE YOU SEEING A BREAKTHROUGH APPLICATION OR TREND THAT WILL DRIVE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY FURTHER?
SB: Everyone is driving for the same kind of goals, and I think the key thing that is changing is the push towards automation. Automation means, of course, manufacturing process automation but it also encompasses the associated innovations in collecting and managing actionable data about equipment and devices, processes and parts… all of these contribute towards the smart factory/smart manufacturing concept.
That’s probably the number one trend—automation making possible a drive towards advances in consistency, throughput, product quality and cost-effective manufacturing.
Universal Robots (UR) has helped Vietnam-based Vinacomin Motor Industry Joint Stock Company (VMIC) – a subsidiary of the Vinacomin Group, future-proof its production processes with cobots. VMIC, one of the first state-owned manufacturers to deploy cobots, has seen productivity increase two to three times, with improved product quality, leading to a 50 to 60 percent rise in orders.
VMIC deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake two tasks; pick and place and machine tending
Mr Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots said, “Cobots continue to offer businesses in Southeast Asia vast benefits to transform their manufacturing processes and remain competitive. VMIC is exemplary of this, automating its once heavily-reliant manual processes and now boasting high productivity and better output quality.
“UR is at the forefront of cobot technology, helping businesses like VMIC accelerate the transition to smarter production and sustainable growth. We are seeing greater cobot technology adoption in the region as companies realise the immense potential of automation. Beyond the mining industry, cobots are deployed in sectors such as automotive, electronics, textile, pharmaceuticals, footwear and food processing industries,” he added.
Growing Adoption Of Robotics In Southeast Asia
Robot adoption is increasing in the region. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Asia is the largest industrial robot market, with over 280,000 units installed last year. While Southeast Asia makes up a small share of that total, the region has steadily seen an increase in installed robots annually. Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are ranked among the 30 largest markets in 2018 with a total of 87,100 operational robots. The electronics and automotive industries remain the largest robot users in the region.
Singapore claimed the highest robot density globally in 2018 with 831 robots per 10,000 workers, followed by Malaysia and Thailand with 52 and 51 units each. Digitalisation and greater automation in industrial production is expected to drive robot installations. Countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are expected to see an average annual growth rate of five to 15 percent from 2020 to 2022. The automation and control market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth US$184.5million by 2021 according to Frost and Sullivan.
UR10 Cobots Implemented At VMIC
Manual processes dominated work at VMIC, which manufactures parts for mining vehicles. This reliance on physical labour resulted in low productivity and inconsistent quality. Customer numbers and orders were low, affecting workers’ income. Realising that it was imperative to embrace automation, the company deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake two tasks; pick and place and machine tending.
VMIC reached out to local automation systems integrator Vnstar Automation JSC (Vnstar) – a partner of Servo Dynamics Engineering (Servo), a UR distributor in Vietnam – to automate its processes.
At the recent MTA Vietnam 2019 trade show in Ho Chi Minh City, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke with Patrick Kemnitz, General Director of TRUMPF Vietnam and Head of Business Development for Southeast Asia, and Edward Yuen, General Manager for Singapore and Vietnam, about the trends shaping the metalworking industry in the region, challenges and opportunities for growth. They also provided their insights on where the Southeast Asian market is headed in the next years.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN VIETNAM?
Patrick Kemnitz (PK): Vietnam is a strong and steadily growing market, with a GDP of around five to seven percent. Vietnamese companies have been getting more and more jobs from foreign markets, especially with the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.
This is the current situation. But in the long run, we see huge potential in the Vietnamese market. Its huge population of labour entering the workforce is also a very high potential for growth.
In almost all industries where sheet metal products are needed, such as furniture, elevators, construction, automotive, bicycle, there is an opportunity for doing these metal products locally instead of importing them. So, the increasing localisation of all the industries is a very high potential for businesses.
Edward Yuen (EY): The market now is driven by infrastructure development. You see a lot of construction happening all over Vietnam. Tall buildings, highways, bridges are built—for all these infrastructures, sheet metal works are required. Also due to the tariff issue between China and the United States, you will see a lot of these industries basically restructuring their businesses instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, and some of the international companies investing strongly in Vietnam.
ARE YOU SEEING ANY CHALLENGES IN THE MARKET?
PK: For our customers, one of their challenges is having skilled workforce for their factories.
Therefore, education needs to be tackled: Vietnam needs to have the right education on future technologies. In line with this, we are working with educational organizations like universities and technical colleges to support them with technical input from the industry as investing in people is important for future growth of the whole country.
There are other issues, but I think the opportunities are bigger than these challenges. There is also the opportunity brought by Industry 4.0 and smart factory. This is our theme in this exhibition, ‘Your Smart Factory’, which is about how we can help our customers make the first steps in the direction of a connected production process and to provide all the advantages of having a smart factory. This is really a process that will require a step by step approach. And now is the time for our customers and the industry in Vietnam, because many new factories are being set up here. They are not just expanding their existing factories, but also building new ones. If you have these greenfield projects, you have the opportunity to plan really well from scratch.
HOW IS TRUMPF ADDRESSING THE WIDE SPECTRUM OF MANUFACTURING LEVELS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA?
PK: We established our product portfolio in such a way that we have a solution for customers from all levels. For instance, our entry level machines are strategically positioned to help customers grow their manufacturing process. We also have machines which allows our customers to upgrade into a combination machine to extend their production. And on the very high-end sector we offer fully automated machines and storage systems.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT THREE TO FIVE YEARS?
PK: Three to five years in Vietnam, or maybe Southeast Asia in general, is a long horizon. At the moment we mainly still have a positive outlook for the economy. Of course, there are signs that the global economy is slowing down, especially in the machinery industry, but so far these still might be part of the cyclical developments over time. Here in Vietnam, there is positive development. Mostly, all the industries that are relevant for sheet metal production are growing, so we are quite positive for our customers, that they can develop their business in a very positive way as there is still a lot of space to grow. In this environment, we consider TRUMPF as an enabler of this growth.
EY: For Southeast Asia, I think there are good prospects for the next three to five years. The continuing trade war between the United States and China which is not going to end soon are driving a lot of companies to move to Southeast Asia. Whatever products that you are now manufacturing in China and if you have to export it to the USA, you want to avoid getting entangle into this tariff game. Now we see lots of job-shops in Vietnam are loading up with jobs that are shifted over from plants in China. Going forward I believe more manufacturing companies in China will slow their expansion there and instead build up their expansion in SEA instead. In a way you don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket. The other impetus, the cost of manufacturing in those big northern Asian countries are not getting any cheaper and it only makes sense to capitalise on the cheaper labour force; huge available cheaper land and better infrastructure of SEA to grow a business.
VinFast, Vietnam’s first volume car manufacturer, has successfully produced its first cars ahead of schedule using Siemens’ portfolio of integrated software and hardware. By deploying its portfolio, Siemens helped VinFast achieve its automotive production timeline for building the factory, car design and start of the production in only 21 months, well ahead of an already ambitious schedule. This is half of the average time to build such a manufacturing plant. The VinFast plant in Hai Phong went live in June 2019 and has a total design capacity of 250,000 cars per year. The first vehicles have been E-Scooters, compact cars, sedans, and SUVs. These will be followed by battery electric passenger cars as well as electric buses.
The entire value chain has been integrated and digitalised with Siemens’ Digital Enterprise portfolio, which includes the Xcelerator portfolio of software and Totally Integrated Automation (TIA). Xcelerator enables creation of the most accurate digital twin, melding model-based simulations with test data and real performance analytics with intelligent edge control. VinFast is using Teamcenter software as backbone of collaboration for product lifecycle management and NX software, a leading integrated solution for computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE), to develop the digital twin of cars and production. Teamcenter connects the digital twin with a consistent digital thread, which is helping VinFast increase speed and flexibility in development, optimise manufacturing processes and use the insights gained from product and plant operations to improve future performance. VinFast has also implemented Siemens Opcenter software (formerly Simatic IT Unified Architecture) to increase production speed and quality. This MES solution supports closed-loop manufacturing by driving real-time production data to the digital twin of product and enables innovation of product design and production operations.
Automation is realised by the modular and flexible automation concept Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), that controls and drives all productions. VinFast deployed Siemens’ automation equipment for its manufacturing lines in all shops: press shop, paint shop, body shop, assembly shop, sub-assembly- and engine shop. Simatic Controllers enable VinFast to automate factory operations such as robots or conveyor lines, including safety functionality. VinFast uses the engineering framework TIA Portal to program automation tasks from the press shop through to the final assembly. Simatic HMI’s are widely used in the factory, allowing VinFast to operate and observe the status of machines and entire systems for the production staff. Using Siemens’ Industrial Identification products, VinFast can track and trace parts and optimise the entire flow of materials. In addition, Sinumerik controls guarantee highest efficiency and quality in their powertrain machinery. Further portfolio provided by Siemens features network components, power supplies, control products, low voltage distribution and switchgears, an energy distribution system as well as motors and drives. The comprehensive automation components from Siemens enable VinFast to build up the factory with high quality of global standards.
“VinFast and their new production site are a great example of how the automotive industry is driving the digital transformation of manufacturing,” says Bernd Mangler, Senior Vice President Automotive Solutions at Siemens Digital Industries. “We are proud that we contributed with our offerings to create the virtual and real production lines including the technology for continuous optimisations along the entire lifecycle of the equipment – and of course, all had to happen in record speed.”
Vietnam To Remove Import Tax For Auto Materials Ministry of Finance (MoF) plans to eliminate the import tax for auto parts and accessories, which are not available domestically, to support the development of the local automotive industry. The tax cut was part of the Government’s revised decree on the schedule for preferential import tariffs, flat taxes, compound tariffs, and out-of-quota import tariffs.
Furthermore, MoF will develop preferential import tax policies for raw materials for automotive manufacturing and assembly from 2019 to 2023.
Removal of the import tariff for auto parts could help local companies reduce operation costs and improve competitiveness.
By 2030, Vietnamese automobile market will be fully open to major automobile production centres around the world including Japan, Mexico and the EU.
There are plenty of potential benefits in making good use of standardisation concepts when sourcing a mould base. Article by Lung Kee Group (LKM).
Injection moulding is one of the key processes in today’s manufacturing industry, enabling manufacturers to achieve economy of scale in production of high-volume plastic or metal parts. The quality of the mould, usually defined by its precision and overall reliability, plays a critical role in determining the success of the final product.
In very simple terms, a mould base is a semi-finished mould. The basic structure of a mould base consists of several drilled or machined mould plates assembled together with mould components. Modern mould makers tend to purchase mould bases from specialist mould base suppliers, in order to reduce overall manufacturing time and the costs associated with machinery and raw material investments. Perhaps most importantly, using a mould base enables the mould maker to focus on the high value-adding portions of the mould manufacturing process, such as design, polishing and final production tests.
Just like many industrial processes, there are plenty of potential benefits in making good use of standardisation concepts when sourcing a mould base. The most obvious one is cost, as standard mould bases can be ordered from catalogue, offering good price transparency. The leading suppliers in Japan, Europe and Asia all have highly engineered production lines to achieve a high level of machining precision on a consistent basis—so, by making use of their standard products, mould makers can also enjoy the economy of scale in terms of competitive pricing. Standardisation also helps mould makers’ internal workflow by speeding up the design process. In fact, many CAD packages contain libraries of common mould base standards.
A good standard mould base has three defining qualities: reliable material, reliable precision, and reliable availability. The importance of raw materials should not be underestimated, as moulds made with poor materials risk plate deformation or even fracture due to metal fatigue. Reliable precision is quite often easier said than done, as the quality from small scale manufacturer tends to highly depend on individual workmanship.
And of course, good quality products mean nothing if one cannot buy them easily. Leading mould base suppliers tend to have superior financial strength to invest in good material procurement capabilities, strong CNC machine portfolio and large inventory, and above all, they tend to have a commitment to high quality.
LKM Discusses Benefits of Standard Mould Bases for Vietnam Manufacturers
Established in 1975, Lung Kee Group (LKM) is one of the leading mould base manufacturers worldwide. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong, with product lines ranging from standard and custom-made mould bases, to precision machining and mould components. LKM is also a distributor of quality tool steel brands such as Japanese Daido, Assab Uddeholm, Arcelormittal, Bao Steel, and its own brand ‘LKM Special Steel’.
For the past 40 years, LKM is instrumental in the growth of the mould making industry in Asia. Through commitments to quality and integrity, and a relentless drive to excellence, LKM has developed from its modest beginning into an industry leading powerhouse in mould base manufacturing. In fact, LKM was the first Hong Kong company to introduce CNC machining centres for mould base manufacturing. LKM’s reputation as an industry leader in the mould base industry was further solidified through its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1993.
At present, LKM manufactures over 55,000 complete sets of mould bases per month. In term of custom-made mould base, the company has world-class machining capacity, powered by a team of engineers and machine operators with over 30 years of combined experience in making complex custom-made mould base for the automotive industry and precision machinery.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Cyrus Lau, assistant manager of Lung Kee Metal Japan Co. Ltd (HCMC Office)—LKM’s Vietnam office—talks about Vietnam’s mould & die industry and what’s driving growth in the market.
Q: How would you describe Vietnam’s mould and die industry?
Cyrus Lau: Vietnam is one of the biggest centres of manufacturing industry in Southeast Asia. Its mould & die market is comprehensive, ranging from sheet metal dies, die casting dies, and forging dies, to jigs, fixtures, gauges, and more. Key factors driving the market include the growing support from Japanese moulding companies. Overall, there is a large number of local manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors operating in Vietnam’s mould and die industry.
Q: How does LKM position itself in the Vietnam mould & die market?
CL: We are a mould base manufacturer and machinery specialist. We don’t think any company in our industry can claim to produce over 100 tonnes of metal chips like we do! But most importantly, our LKM standard is known to be very reliable, and is one of the most popular mould base brand in the world. When customers buy LKM, they know they get good and reliable quality. We have a large number of Japan-made machining centres, and we can cut over 100 tons of steel materials a day. In addition, we work with customers and provide them with materials and processing advice.
Q: How are you helping your customers address their manufacturing challenges?
CL: For Vietnamese mould makers, reliable quality and speed are very important—and the easiest way to improve this is by adopting standardisation in mould bases. This will improve lead time, quality, and make mould designs easier. Of course, standard products also tend to be cost efficient, which is clearly beneficial for mould makers.