14 Jan 2004
Keypads(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
Speakers & Microphones
Tapping The Market
Silicone rubber keypads from Hoi Wah Industrial Co Ltd are used in a variety of items ranging from telecoms and audiovisual products to calculators and toys
Fingertip control is essential for a plethora of consumer electronic, telecommunication, medical and industrial equipment - which is excellent news for Hong Kong keypad manufacturers keen to meet market demand.
Take, for example, Hoi Wah Industrial Co Ltd, which specialises in the production of rubber keypads and parts for a large variety of products including calculators, telephones and toys.
"Building on our extensive experience, we have established a strong reputation for high standards of product quality and excellent service," claims sales representative Cally Yip.
The 25-year-old company opened subsidiary Jin Wah Industrial Ltd in Huizhou on the Chinese mainland as a manufacturing facility employing some 200 workers in 1990. "To increase our competitiveness and maintain high quality standards, we have adopted advanced production equipment and fully train all our staff in the use of CAD software," she adds.
Hoi Wah imports high quality silicone rubber and other raw materials from Japan, Taiwan and elsewhere. Finished products include silicone rubber keypads, single keys, O-rings, gaskets and other rubber parts for OEM clients on the mainland and overseas.
Because of the huge variety of keypads available, the company prefers to quote against buyers' specifications. "However, we can usually commence deliveries 7-10 days after order confirmation," says Yip.
A 34-year veteran of the electronics industry, Modern Metal & Electric Ltd (MME) lays claim to doing business with household names such as Alps, Sony, Yamaha, GE, Siemens, Canon and Honeywell.
MME is also one of the largest manufacturers of silicone rubber keypads in the Asia-Pacific region, producing more than 10 million items a month at its 1,500-worker, 200,000-square-foot plant in Dongguan, on the mainland. The facility is ISO 9001- and QS 9000-certified.
According to assistant general manager Phillip Chan, MME has an annual turnover of more than US$15m. "We import raw materials from the US, Europe and Japan, and export finished products worldwide, mainly to OEM clients," he says. "Applications for our products include remote controls, telecommunications equipment, digital diaries, the automotive industry, computers and medical apparatus."
He points out that MME certifies that all the raw materials used in its products are non-hazardous and tested to EN71 and EN112 standards. "We are a vertically integrated operation and conduct all processes in-house," says Chan. "The two plants that house the tooling shops, P+R (plastic plus rubber) production, automated spraying and laser etching operate under our QC/QA system."
MME is happy to quote prices against customers' specifications, and promises to commence deliveries 2-3 weeks after confirmation of order. Minimum orders depend on the design of the item.
While the consumer electronics sector, especially game machines and computers, may be the most obvious market for keypads, it is folly to overlook demand from other commercial and industrial applications, says manager Leo Lam of 16-year-old Luen Fung Silicone Rubber Mfg Co.
Luen Fung boasts advanced production facilities with more than 200 employees. "Our company structure and administrative system allows us to coordinate all departments," claims Lam. "This is why we can effortlessly produce excellent products and deliver them on time to our customers worldwide."
Lam promises that prices are highly competitive and says he will be "happy to quote against specific requirements", adding that minimum order quantities depend on individual needs.
Plans include producing keypads such as P+R and TPU, particularly for use in mobile phones.
A manufacturer with bright, colourful keypads in all shapes and sizes is 12-year-old Yan Chuen Co Ltd. "The shape of the keypad module, and also the colours of the keys, depends very much on the requirements of the OEM," states sales manager Ivy Cheung.
"We have to produce to exacting measurements, and often in a variety of colours, while the key contacts have to be very reliable and this makes our business very quality-conscious."
Among its broad range, Yan Chuen offers silicone rubber keypads with multicolour printing; PU protective coatings; glossy, epoxy key top coatings; and laser-etched characters for backlighting.
"We also manufacture membrane switches that work together with our traditional silicone rubber keypads to provide an improved tactile feel and a shorter key-travel," adds Cheung. "Beside custom-made keypads, we can offer low-cost, standard, single keys for flexible designs or for operating toys."
Production takes place at a 5,000-square-metre, 200-worker, ISO 9001-certified mainland plant located in Shenzhen. Raw materials come from Japan and Taiwan, and exports go to the US, Europe and East Asia as well as local mainland clients.
"The minimum order quantity is negotiable depending on the size and complexity," says Cheung. "Deliveries usually commence about 7-14 days after confirmation of order."
Clearly in tune with market needs, Hong Kong manufacturers are keen to continue tapping and supplying worldwide demand for quality keypads.
WRITTEN BY ANTHONY WT MOORE
Bor Kee Rubber Mfg Ltd
Unit 22, 15/F
Yale Ind Centre
61-63 Au Pui Wan St
Fo Tan, New Territories
Hoi Wah Industrial Co Ltd
Flat I, 9/F
Wing Hong Ind Bldg
18-26 Kwai Fung Crescent
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Hung Tai Industries Co
Flat N, 8/F, Blk 4
Kwun Tong Ind Centre
436 Kwun Tong Rd
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Luen Fung Silicone Rubber Mfg Co
Heng Ngai Jewelry Centre
4 Hok Yuen St
Hung Hom, Kowloon