Global growth: Watlow expands in China; Singapore cites Asia trends

By Control Engineering Staff November 14, 2006
Watlow celebrates the opening of a new manufacturing facility last month in Shanghai, China, part of the company’s effort to serve customers in Asia more effectively.

St. Louis, MO, Shanghai, China, and Baltimore, MDWatlow ‘s expansion in China and news from Singapore about additional investments in Asia highlight manufacturing growth in that region. Reflecting its effort to better serve customers that currently have a presence in China, Watlow has opened a new manufacturing plant in that country. The new Shanghai facility, which celebrated its grand opening Oct. 31, will manufacture tubular heaters. Watlow is a designer and manufacturer of heaters, controllers, and temperature sensors.

“Watlow built this new facility to support the local market,” said John Gross, company director of operations. “Watlow recognizes China as a dominant player in the world market and is committed to serving the region. We feel it is an important step in our customers’ growth of their business in Asia,” added Gross.

Co-located teams from the United States and China worked together to make the grand opening a reality. The event included Watlow customers from China and the U.S., employees from both locations, and Watlow’s executive team. The plant began operations in August.

In other news about the exploding growth in Asia : Efforts by manufacturing to continue growing its businesses in Asia were underscored in a presentation by Ko Kheng Hwa, managing director, Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB), made at Rockwell Automation ‘s Manufacturing Perspectives media event held last month, in Baltimore, the day before Automation Fair.

Hwa told journalists attending the event that manufacturing has been shifting locations, but more recent among global trends has been migration of supply chains: U.S. to Mexico; Europe to Eastern Europe; Japan to Asia, Oceana, and Singapore. Europe also has migrated some to the U.S. and to Asia, he noted, adding, “Making that work requires companies to more closely integrate systems and manage assets over a global network. Another trend to watch is high-technology manufacturing. Singapore and Asia as a whole (except Japan) have increased share of high-technology manufacturing globally, as the U.S. widened its lead, while the European group of 15 has declined,” said Hwa.

With China expanding as “factory to the world,” there’s been an emergence of a Pan-Asian manufacturing network, driven by costs and by companies seeking to leverage competitive advantages, diversify risks by spreading manufacturing across multiple areas in the region, especially into areas such as Singapore, said Hwa. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) free trade agreement, due in 2015, he added, will augment the concept of a huge common market with an integrated production base, incorporating 550 million people with private consumption comparable to Coastal China, Japan, or India.

Click here to read an expanded version of Hwa’s remarks at Control Engineering Online .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Jeanine Katzel , senior editor