In the plastic district

A trip to Taiwan, to the Kaohsiung district, synonym for plastics, rubber, composites, petrochemical products and moulds. A district where highly specialized companies are able to integrate the principles of Industry 4.0 with the need to hold onto qualified personnel.

by Stefano Colletta

Travelling always means a discovery of new things, aspects of a country you thought you knew and which, instead, do not actually respond to reality. Sometimes you think you understand, intuitively, and you think you have the right key to universally understanding every memory you have of the country you visited. In reality, you only have one more page, not an entire volume. This is the case for Taiwan. A visit to the district of Kaohsiung, in the southern part of the island, is enough to discover that it is synonymous for plastics, rubber, composites, petrochemical products, and moulds. It is synonymous with highly specialized companies in these sectors. Local companies with a high propensity for research and development, capable of integrating the principles of Industry 4.0 with the need to keep hold of qualified personnel who know how to turn the history of this part of the country into gold thanks to modern technological developments. All accompanied by a simple, clean and humble business approach, behaviour that at times appears to almost hinder a company’s potential. An effect that is clear also when visiting Plascom the reference fair for the sector in Kaohsiung (the next edition will be held in 2019), or when visiting the 20 research centres located in this area. But the plan is clear for the mayor of Kaohsiung and the President of Taiwan, but it is especially clear for local companies, namely: to become the benchmark for the entire Asia area when it comes to the expansive world of plastics and composite materials. The genesis of industrialization in this part of the island is already known by everyone. The year Taiwan gained independence from China,1949, became the starting point for the country’s economic development thanks to the immense help provided by the United States that permitted Taiwan to modernize its industry, at the time too closely tied to tradition. With duties barriers gone, investments in hi-tech sectors (electronics, biotechnology, photoelectrics, precision mechanics, pharmaceutical industry, aeronautics and aerospace), first boosted the country’s growth and then generated a process of relocation to other low-cost areas, and developed the design and production of hi-tech products even further. This helps to explain why the countries with which Taiwan has the highest trade figures are the USA, Japan, North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia.

Who you meet at Plascom

Visiting Plascom in Taiwan, the fair that has become a point of reference for area companies operating in plastics, you can meet important realities, dynamics and innovation. A handful of the most interesting.

Formosa Group staff with Stefano Colletta, technical director for Subfornitura News

Formosa Group, with its Plastic and Petrochemical divisions and its eleven companies, covers a surface of area of 2,603 hectares, employs more than 6,500 and makes constant investments, 25.62 billion US dollars in the last year alone. But it does not end here: it owns production facilities in Taiwan, in the USA (Texas) and in China; research centres located regionally and also in the United States; it operates within a pipeline of suppliers primarily from Taiwan, and it draws from a fleet of engineers to develop quality products in the fields of petro chemistry and plastic.
Qualipoly Chemical Corp, resin manufacturer, Upr, UV Curable Materials. The company extends over an area of 56,000 square metres, employs 430 people and has share capital of 36 million dollars, 80% of which generated in more than 40 foreign countries.

“A visit to the district of Kaohsiung, in the southern part of Taiwan, is enough to discover that it is synonymous for plastics, rubber, composites, petrochemical products, and moulds” Stefano Colletta

Tung Yu, with its 175 employees in Taiwan and 150 in China, generates overseas revenues of 75% of the total, distributed between the USA, EU (France and Germany), Japan, India, and South Asia. Their business ranges from the medical field to automotive and photoelectrics.

Advance Group, established in 1987, owns production facilities in Taiwan, China and Vietnam, it gives jobs to 10,000 employees, and has clients in the USA, Japan and Europe. It is specialized in various sports fields (primarily bikes and golf) and, through a division specializing in the production of composite materials, it also serves the aeronautical and automotive sectors.
USI Corporation, with its 11.5 billion US dollars in revenues and 4.000 employees, is a manufacturer of innovative plastics for medical applications. Its crowning achievement is its particular attention to its human resources.

Chi Mei Corporation has been in operation for almost seventy years and specializes in the production of plastics and rubber. These are its “figures”: revenues of more than 3,5 billion euro, 3,200 employees, production capacity of 3.66 million tons a year, in addition to the capacity for 2.16 million tons annually of ABS and 330,000 of PMMA.
Other interesting companies include AMP (tier 1 supplier for Toyota, Porsche and Kia); YOKE (world leader in the manufacture of safety products and one of the three API certified companies in the world), Fu Chun Shin Machinery; Hocheng Corporation; Lian Kuai Co Ltd; Horng EN Co. Ltd; HCI Converting Equipment; KCI Master Industries Corp. And the list could probably be a lot longer. All this for an island of “just” 25 million people.

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