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Metal Casting Technologies : Whos who September 2011
Thai manufacturing and metal casters at full capacity By John Pearce and Julathep Kajornchaiyakul Manufacturing has become Thailand's largest economic sector contributing between 45-50% of GDP. With rapid growth from the 405,761 vehicles produced in 2000 to the 1,645,304 vehicles in 2010 the automotive industry has and continues to be the highlight performer. Annual car production in Thailand is expected to increase to near 3 million units within 5 years pushing Thailand into the top ten car producers. This year the Thai auto industry will produce about 1.7 million or more vehicles involving some 2000-2500 parts suppliers and employing a total of around 520,000 workers. Around 800 of the auto component producers are tier 1 suppliers tied to Japanese parent companies with the remaining 1500 or so being mainly Thai owned and focusing on replacement parts. Although there was a slow down in the automotive sector due to cutbacks in vehicle assembly following supply chain disruptions after the earthquake disaster in Japan nearly all Thai plants are back to running at near full capacity. The Thai industries Auto Industry Club recently announced that it expected that the original target of 1.8 million vehicles for 2011 would be achieved. Motor-cycle output in June showed a 28% increase compared to last year with most of the parts produced locally. Demand for all types of castings, especially automotive and machinery parts, has increased with many foundries looking to expand their capacity and capability. The booming auto sector absorbs two out of every three castings produced in Thailand. More castings will be needed for pick-up trucks and SUVs as Toyota plans to increase output at its Chachoengsao plant by 40% to 220,000 units per year. Jatoko (Thailand), part of the Nissan group, are also establishing a new plant in Chonburi to build continuously variable transmission systems with production due to start in 2013. The high levels of interest in manufacturing in general was reflected in the 25% increase in visitors to near 45,000 at the Manufacturing Expo 2011 held in Bangkok during 23-26 June. There is some concern over the new Thai government's proposal to raise the daily minimum wage to 300Baht but most workers in large scale manufacturing are skilled and earn more than the minimum wage. Second and third tier suppliers may be affected by the proposed increased wage and may consider moving to lower cost areas such as Indonesia or Vietnam. However the main labour problem across all manufacturing companies in Thailand is still the shortage of skilled workers as companies seek to expand production. There are some 1,100 mould & die factories in Thailand but skill shortages mean that the Thai mould & die makers, including the foreign owned companies located in Thailand, cannot meet the demands of Thai industry and Thailand remains a net importer of moulds and dies. The Thai auto-parts industry will be showcased at The 5th Thailand Auto Parts & Accessories 2012 (TAPA 2012) Fair to be held in Bangkok from 26-29 April 2012 (www.thaiautoparts.or.th). Thai Foundry Association activities The Thai Foundry Association (TFA) was originally formed in 1990 as the Thai Foundrymen's Forum which then became the Thai Foundrymen's Society (TFS) in 1995. The TFS was then re-organized into the Thai Foundry Association in 2009. The TFA currently has around 300 company members, around 200 of which are castings producers and 100 are from the foundry supplies or related industries. In promoting the Thai cast metals industry, the TFA provides technical advice, organizes technical training and seminars and takes part in exhibitions, trade shows and study missions overseas. The TFA publishes the Thai Foundry Directory every two years and the Metal Casting Journal (in Thai) every three months. This past year the TFA organized a number of seminars 34 www.metals.rala.com.au THE THAI INDUSTRIES AUTO INDUSTRY CLUB RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT IT EXPECTED THAT THE ORIGINAL TARGET OF 1.8 MILLION VEHICLES FOR 2011 WOULD BE ACHIEVED.