Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Toyota pours more investment to Thailand

Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan on Wednesday announced Bt6 billion investment to increase its engine production in Thailand, showing yet another mark of confidence to the Thai economy despite the great floods last year.

In a statement, the company said that through the investment through Siam Toyota Manufacturing Co Ltd (STM), the production capacity of Toyota Corolla ZR benzene engines will be raised by 100,000 units annually, creating around 200 new additional jobs, from 3,000 at present. The expansion will include increasing the capacity for the casting of aluminum materials. The expansion programme at the plant in Amata-Nakorn Industrial Estate, Chon Buri, is projected to be completed in 2014.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bangkok Post: Just-in-time in doubt after deluge

Manufacturers are diversifying parts supplies to minimise the risk of flood-related disruptions. Some are even questioning whether the widely accepted practice of lean manufacturing makes sense.

Automotive and electronics companies were especially hit hard by last year's floods, the most severe in 69 years, as they were buying from component makers concentrated in the heavily inundated provinces of Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

AFG Meeting – 17th of February 2012

With an excellent 'turnout' of about 60 members and friends of the AFG the Annual General Meeting was held. A detailed report was already sent to the members.

Supachai Manusphaibool publisher of the monthly “Thai Labor Chronicle” and Wasantachai Watanavongvisudhi partner of International Legal Counsellors of Thailand presented an interesting seminar on the definition of this new minimum wage according to the Thai Labour law.

We will post a summary of the 'rules' on the blog within the next few days.

After the meeting the group joined the AUSTCHAM Sundowners networking meeting.

AFG Meeting at Amari Orchid Ocean Tower

Supachai Manusphaibool

Wasantachai Watanavongvisudhi

MALAYSIA: Daihatsu building country's first auto transmission plant

Daihatsu Motor Co., the Japanese automaker known mostly for its smaller models and off-road vehicles said Wednesday it will invest about 5 billion yen in southwestern Malaysia to build automatic transmissions.

The Japanese automaker aims to start operating the plant in the Sendayan Industrial Park in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan in November 2013 with an annual production capacity of 150,000 units.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Storing Your Car The Right Way For The Long Term

Storing Your Car The Right Way For The Long TermSo you're going on your OE or maybe you're just staying with family down south in Dunedin for a few weeks. You might be in between flats or maybe you just don't trust parking on the street for a long period of time. You might have something to drive around every day but you've got no room for the classic that sits parked at home.

Don't let your friend borrow your car and risk a phone call about an accident in the supermarket parking lot - if you need short or long term car storage in NZ and you're not sure where to look, talk to a storage company about self storage options for your car.

Why you should choose self storage

The number one thing you want to know when you store something as precious as a car is that it's going to be safe. Not only does a self storage unit give you a place to park up, but it also comes with all of the security features that you could ask for to give you complete peace of mind.

Nearly every storage company worth their name employs cameras and CCTV systems. Working to deter and prevent theft as well as providing solutions if something does go wrong, having a pair of eyes constantly watching your storage unit is definitely reassuring.

Employees and security staff work around the clock to ensure that your unit remains secure. Most storage companies will have patrolling security working overnight to keep watch over things. While there are usually specific opening hours, you should be able to arrange 24-hour access with night staff if you phone ahead, meaning that you'll never have to worry about not having access to your unit and car.

How to store your car effectively

Proper storage is imperative - especially if you own a classic car that you want to maintain the condition of. Using a self storage option allows you to follow a few of these basic rules to automotive storage while keeping the vehicle away from the varied and sometimes harsh New Zealand weather.

Store indoors, out of the wind to prevent damage.

Let your car sit for months rather than turning it on for a few minutes each week. While it's usually better to drive your vehicle on a regular basis, if you must store, having someone turn it on occasionally is doing it more harm than good.

Wash the car and give it a fresh coat of wax before putting it into storage.

Change all the fluids a week or two before putting your car away, but try not to change the oil until as late as possible.

Fill the tank with fresh fuel and drive for a bit before storing to let it circulate. Fresh petrol lasts a full year without additives and will help to prevent rust and other damage.

Storing your car properly is the key to preventing long-term damage. With the security and safety of a self storage option, it's the best way to guarantee peace of mind and prevent the complications that arise through thoughtless storage. Find a storage company in your town or city and discuss your needs with them.

Oil Change Information

      An oil change sounds simple, but there’s some pretty important things to know about preventing oil sludge.      Oil eventually starts to turn into jelly. Literally – petroleum jelly. Sludge clogs up oil passages and keeps oil from getting to some areas of the engine, causing parts to wear out prematurely. And that means expensive engine repairs.
     That’s why you need to change the oil and oil filter on schedule – to get the old oil out before it turns to sludge. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for how many miles you can go between oil changes. They also usually have a number of months between recommended oil changes. That’s because the detergents and other additives in the oil break down over time.
     Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation for time and mileage, but you need to remember that it’s based on using the recommended weight of oil. And if your vehicle came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended intervals assume you continue to use synthetic.
     Also how you drive around can have a big effect. Most owner’s manuals will have a list of driving conditions that are harder on your vehicle. Things like stop and go driving, short trips, driving in very hot or very cold weather, heavy loads and towing. If some of your driving fits this, you may need to change your oil and do other maintenance on a shorter schedule.
      This may sound complicated. Some vehicles have an oil life calculator that takes all of these factors into account and tells you when you should change your oil. Otherwise, talk with your service advisor at Kent Rylee Automotive about how you drive and get her recommendation for when to take care of your service.  For a great quick informational video on oil changes, click below


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Volvo is Geely, and Geely is Volvo

It was only a matter of time.

The privately-held Chinese automaker Geely has announced that it will be forming a joint venture with its subsidiary Volvo.  As you may remember, Geely’s owner, Li Shufu conducted a high-profile purchase of the Swedish automaker Volvo from Ford in 2010.

The concern at the time had been that Geely simply wanted to strip away Volvo’s intellectual property for itself, but Li Shufu assured observers that the two entities would remain separate: “Volvo is Volvo, and Geely is Geely.”  And indeed, the purchase was structured so that both the Hong Kong-listed Geely Motors and Volvo are both subsidiaries of a holding company controlled by Li Shufu.  (In other words, Geely doesn’t own Volvo, technically, Li Shufu does.)

So why is Geely now forming a JV with Volvo?  Because it has to in order to build cars in China.  China’s rules require that any “foreign” automaker that wants to assemble cars in China may only do so through a joint venture with a Chinese automaker, and the foreign entity may hold no more than 50 percent of the JV.  Since Volvo is still headquartered in Sweden, it is considered foreign.

The icing on the cake for China here is that, like all other foreign automakers who have sought permission from Beijing for expansion or establishment of a new venture anytime during the past two years, Volvo is also being required to “assist” Geely in building a Chinese-branded car.

Until now, this has only applied to state-owned enterprises because only state-owned enterprises had joint ventures with foreign automakers (with the exception of a small JV between BYD and Daimler to develop electric vehicles).  The assumption had been that the SOEs, which had been dragging their feet in terms of developing their own brands, would be “given” slightly out-of-date technology by their foreign partners.  They would then produce cars under a Chinese brand name using the foreign technology and designs.  (I have previously written about this phenomenon, which I refer to as "sub-brands" or “JV Brands.”)

What is interesting here is that Geely, unlike the SOEs cannot be accused of “dragging its feet” in developing Chinese brands.  Indeed, Chinese brands are all Geely has ever made!

So what does this mean for Volvo?  What it means is that Volvo will simply be handing over technology onto which will be slapped a Geely-owned Chinese brand name.

Perhaps Li Shufu would now like to change his quote to, “Volvo is Geely, and Geely is Volvo.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thai auto production rises to 4-month high in January

Thailand’s automobile production in January significantly increased to 140,404 units, marking the highest level in the past four months since the megaflood submerged a number of provinces in October, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Thai Automotive January output kickstarts into drive

The Thai automotive industry kicked off the year impressively with production surging in January over the previous month.

The industry was battered by floods last October and November but started recovering in December.

Total automobile production in January dropped by 3.98% year-on-year but increased by 41.2% from December to 140,404 units, the highest level since the industry was hit by the flood crisis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Manila: Ford sales dropped 47% in January

Ford Group Philippines posted a 47-percent drop in vehicle sales to 367 units in January this year, from the 688 it sold in the same month last year, as the flood crisis in Thailand continued to take its toll on the supply and delivery of its vehicles.

THE GUARDIAN: Thailand flooding costs Lloyd's of London $2.2bn

Lloyd's of London has estimated that it is liable for $2.22bn (£1.4bn) of net claims from the flooding that devastated Thailand last year.

In a first calculation of its liability for the damage, released on Tuesday, the insurance market said the claims were unlikely to require members to make "material claims" on its central fund or reduce the overall level of capitalisation of the market.

The Olympics, Foam Molding, and You

The Olympics, Foam Molding, and YouYou might already be thinking, "I don't know what the Olympics have to do with me, let alone foam." If that's the case, hopefully you can consider yourself somewhat enlightened (or at least entertained) by the time you finish reading this article.

We'll start with the Olympics. Before the summer's over, the Olympics in London will have come and gone. Around the world, viewers will have the opportunity to see more athleticism than they have all year, some of it will even be more athleticism than they can handle (racewalking anyone?).

However, the most highly anticipated events always seem to be the gymnastics events. To prepare for these events, the Olympians almost always have taken advantage of foam protective gear. For example, you may have seen, heard of, or even had the opportunity to use a "foam pit." Foam pits are a common sight in gymnastics, and are exactly what they sound like - large pits of soft, compressible, and very-forgiving foam. Without these pits of soft foam, gymnasts would not be able to practice the highflying and often very dangerous maneuvers they frequently dazzle audiences with. In the winter Olympics the same can be said for the highly anticipated ski and snowboard events, where contestants throw themselves off jumps and execute seemingly impossible tricks and stunts. At some point, all of them perfected their technique in the foam-pit. But what does that have to do with foam?

Foam molding is the process foam fabricators use to take a raw material and create foam shapes for virtually any need or application. Beyond creating the foam for foam pits, foam fabricators also manufacture sporting pads of all varieties, orthopedic pads, medical packaging, shipping foam, and an almost limitless variety of foam products in between. That's where you come into the equation. Without the quality foam that's given Olympic athletes the opportunity to train in a safe environment, your life would also be different as well.

Whether you participated in sports as a child or recently had a procedure done at the hospital, you've benefited from foam fabrication and molding. Did you use shoulder pads as a child when you played football or hockey? Then you've benefitted from foam molding. Or maybe you use a foam roller to "roll out" tension in your muscles after a workout. Again, you're taking advantage of foam fabrication. You will often see foam moldings in other roles as case inserts, packaging, pallet cushioning, automotive components, medical products, yoga mats, and much more. Chances are, if it's soft and it's foam - it's a foam molding.

Without foam molding the stunts pulled by gymnasts and snowboarders at the Olympics would be a little less exciting, packaging used to safely ship products would be less effective, and with the amount of foam the medical industry uses for everything from device packaging to rehabilitation, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals would have to find new solutions for many of their existing needs. Take a moment and ask yourself, how would your life be different without foam molding?

Whether you look at your house, your car, or the Olympics on T.V., chances are you don't go a day without taking advantage of foam molding or mold fabrication. In addition to the frequency you probably use foam molded products, you also benefit from frequent innovation brought to the foam industry as well.

For example, many years ago the foam products you took advantage of would have been standard foam, which benefits us in a number of ways. However, modern foam has been engineered to withstand all of the environments and applications we subject it to, meaning we can always have the reliability, cushioning, and coating we require, everywhere we need it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Automating Your Production Unit With Conveyors

Automating Your Production Unit With ConveyorsConveyors have revolutionized the production and packaging industry. Commonly associated with automobile and food packaging units, they have become indispensable in any automated process. Evolving from simple designs that were temporary setups, they have become sophisticated both in design and in function. The zero push and the accumulated conveyors are examples of leaps made in the development of automotive handling technology.
Choosing the Right Conveyor
Irrespective of the industry you are operating in, a conveyor can tremendously improve the overall efficiency and bring down the cost of production. It will also reduce your dependence on manual labour which implies a faster production process. There are many types of conveyors available, with each type differing from the other in its drive technology and load bearing capacity. The material and design further expands the number of options.
Other Types of Conveyors
The simplest of the conveyors available is the gravity roller. It does not have a drive mechanism. A series of rollers do the transporting under the influence of gravity. These machines are available in various sizes and are ideal for use in the last stage of production, which is usually loading or unloading. The belt-slider bed conveyor is used where objects are not heavy. These machines are available in different configurations.
You could get an inclined conveyor to suit assembly needs or simply get a horizontal transport device. Easy to setup, belt replacements are the only maintenance these devices usually require. Plastic belt, belt driven rollers and accumulator are other types of Conveyors available.
Set Up Customized Handling Solutions Easily
Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve production efficiency without losing their uniqueness in the market. Having a custom handling solutions provider analyse your needs can pave the way for entering the big league in the market. Automated handling solution providers in Canada cater to all volumes of production.
A reputed automated handling solutions provider will survey the production area and provide a solution by considering your requirements of speed, efficiency and cost of production. Where space is a constraint, overhead equipment can be installed to ensure smooth production. The design will also consider the threats to human safety and will use the space appropriately in order to minimize such threats. A reputed provider will consider vehicle loading and robotic installations to give production efficiency the desired boost.

VW in talks with Proton, looks to grow regional presence

German automotive giant Volkswagen is looking to gain a bigger foothold in ASEAN and is now in talks with local carmaker Proton for a possible manufacturing tie-up, a Bloomberg reported today quoting a source.
According to the report, Volkswagen’s renewed interest stems from the recent takeover of the national carmaker by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s DRB-HICOM last month.

Volkswagen already has an existing relationship with DRB-HICOM, having sealed an assembly deal for the Passat executive saloon here for re-export in 2010.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chevrolet Sets New Sales Record in December 2011

Bangkok, Thailand – Chevrolet Sales Thailand outpaced the industry with a new sales record in Thailand in December 2011, achieving a year-to-date growth of 58 percent and selling more than 4,300 vehicles – the highest since Chevrolet began operations in Thailand. Meanwhile, the automaker continued to make headway across major markets in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region, with sales for the region from January to December 2011 totaling 42,297 units, representing a year-to-date (YTD) growth of 46 percent over the same period in 2010. 

GM's Kevin Wale on Innovation in China

The consulting firm McKinsey published on its website an interview with Kevin Wale, president and managing director of General Motors China.  The whole interview is worth a read if you are interested in the state of innovation in China, but here are a few of the more revealing excerpts with a little of my own commentary.
Kevin Wale: When the Chinese get an idea, they test it in the marketplace. They’re happy to do three to four rounds of commercialization to get an idea right, whereas in the West companies spend the same amount of time on research, testing, and validation before trying to take products to market.
This is both scary and admirable.  Scary, because the Chinese are, at least according to Mr Wale, willing to put products into the market before they are fully tested as a means of development.  When you think about it, this is pretty much what Apple does with its products.  The first iPhone wasn't fully ready, but it was ready enough.  Feedback from customers helped them to improve on subsequent iterations.

What's scary about this is that driving a car that has been put into the market on an experimental basis doesn't sound like something I would want to do.  If my iPhone blows up, I would probably survive.  I'm not sure I could survive my car blowing up.  While I would hope that GM is able to prevent its partner, Shanghai Auto, from putting dangerous vehicles on the market, I wonder whether other Chinese auto companies are quite as careful.

The Buick LaCrosse, partially designed in Shanghai

The Chinese system supports the idea that it’s OK to fail if you fail in a government-sponsored direction. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you’re moving forward. They’re quite OK to get out there, do something, find out it’s not perfect, but quickly adapt it and move forward. There’s no recrimination internally for doing that if that’s the direction the country wants to move in.
It's a great thing that people feel comfortable to experiment within the boundaries set by the state, but the opposite of Mr. Wale's statement is that they do not feel comfortable experimenting outside the boundaries set by the state.  But what if a worker has an idea that's not in “the direction the country wants to move in.”?  Too bad.

This, in my view, is precisely why China will always be a step behind.  Governments have historically been quite bad at charting an unknown course in terms of picking winners and losers.  In China, true technical innovation will always have to come from outside until people feel free to make mistakes in all areas of business, not just those approved by the geniuses in Beijing.
McKinsey Quarterly: Do you source innovation from outside GM China?  Kevin Wale: The answer depends on whether you’re talking about joint ventures or GM. In our joint ventures, we’re happy to take innovation from suppliers any day of the week.

This is more interesting for what Mr Wale doesn't say.  When asked whether GM gets innovation from outside, Mr. Wale assumes the question is about whether GM sources innovation from its joint ventures in China.  From his answer, it seems pretty clear that they don't.

Let's be honest here, the technology is still only flowing in one direction, and that's from GM to its Chinese partners.  At what point will GM's partner have enough technology that it doesn't need GM anymore?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Continental Automotive hikes capacity ahead of AEC

Continental Automotive (Thailand), local unit of the German maker of injectors and pumps for the auto industry, has allocated Bt600 million for investment this year.

The company is increasing capacity as part of a plan to strengthen production ahead of implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Managing director Thomas Chambers said that despite the severe flooding last year, the country remained an important regional manufacturing base for the company. Continental has a factory at Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong province, as well as plants in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Signs of industry recovering

After sustaining heavy blows in 2011, the automobile industry finished the year at 794,000 units, which is about 100,000 units below the original target.

While the Japanese quake and tsunami in March temporarily halted Thai auto production due to parts disruption, it was Thailand's flood crisis that delivered the knockout punch as major auto producers had to cease production for months. Although Honda was the only manufacturer to suffer from severe flooding, other makers also had to halt production due to a shortage of parts as a large number of important suppliers located in Ayutthaya were submerged under water.

However, just three weeks into 2012, there are signs of prosperity once again as Toyota, the largest auto-maker in the country, announced its mid-term investment plan worth almost Bt10 billion that will help the company reach a production figure of 760,000 units per year. Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT) president Kyoichi Tanada said Toyota expects the auto market to sell as much as 1.1 million units in 2012.

Ford Considers Car Assembly in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Ford is considering establishing a new vehicle assembly facility in Indonesia, as it looks to increase its exposure to one of Asia's most promising auto markets.

Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, told reporters gathered for the Delhi Auto Expo that the company is planning to invest in an assembly plant in Indonesia in the near future.

Hinrichs said he is encouraged by the recent strong growth in Indonesian auto sales and the potential for further strong growth. "We expect Indonesia will soon overtake Thailand as the ASEAN's largest market — I cannot say when exactly," he said.

Companies asked to move activities to the Philippines after Thai floods

TWELVE COMPANIES operating in both the Philippines and Thailand have been invited to move business activities here following the impact of the latter’s worst flood in 50 years, a Trade official said yesterday.
Thailand, however, is seen to retain most of its investments even after the disaster through competitive incentive schemes and assistance to businesses affected by the disaster.

"We have short-listed 12 [firms] -- mostly from electronics and automotive parts -- with sister companies here to move their operations here in the Philippines," Trade Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.

"Right now, there is one company in electronics to whom we’re talking and they’re already looking for a location here for their operations," he continued.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Selling Lotus a viable option: Mahathir

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister, comments on Proton Holdings Bhd after billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom Holdings Bhd agreed to buy a controlling stake from the government.

Mahathir, who helped found Proton and remains an advisor, also comments on whether DRB should sell Proton’s U.K. sports- car arm Group Lotus International Ltd. The former premier made these comments in an interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

On selling Lotus:

“It is a viable option and I think the new owners of Proton might consider that. But, Lotus is not just a sports-car company. It is an engineering and technology company. It’s selling engineering skills to China and helping people going into the industry.”

Read more: Selling Lotus a viable option: Mahathir

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oriental Metal Industries Set To Become Top Wheel Maker in Malaysia

By investing in a brand-new RM103 million alloy wheel manufacturing plant in the city of Rawang, Selangor, Oriental Metal Industries (M) Sdn. Bhd. or OMI is planning to become the biggest Tier 1 integrated wheel producer in the country.