13 Feb 2004
Powering Ahead(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
PortaPower (HK) Ltd
|The digital electronics craze has helped PortaPower (HK) Ltd, which produces battery chargers and accessories and battery packs for laptop computers, digital cameras, camcorders and power tools|
The digital electronic products business is constantly evolving and to be a contender in the power supply area you have to stay ahead of the game, according to PortaPower (HK) Ltd senior sales manager Peter Lam.
"We launch approximately 12-15 new items each month," Lam explains. "We are very strong in R&D and have a software development team in Canada and a product development department on the Chinese mainland."
Together these two departments produce an extensive array of power supplies, including battery chargers and accessories and battery packs for laptop computers, digital cameras, camcorders and power tools.
These are manufactured at a factory in Shenzhen in the mainland's Guangdong Province, which has a production capacity of about 600,000 units a month.
However, the product focus is constantly changing and Lam notes that the 12-year-old firm doesn't manufacture mobile phone packs any more because the margin is too low. "It's moving that way with digital cameras," Lam observes. "We're focusing more on laptop battery packs, which have a higher margin."
Although PortaPower is now actively seeking partners to tap the potential of the rapidly growing market for battery packs on the mainland, it continues to focus primarily on its traditional major markets in North America and Europe.
"The mainland market is huge, but for the moment we're happy with our overseas orders, which are increasing at 30-35% per year," Lam reveals. "About 70% of our production is for the US, approximately 20% is for Europe, and the other 10% would be markets like India, Taiwan, Japan, the Middle East - even Russia."
Rapid response is important for PortaPower's customers in all these diverse markets, so the company maintains significant inventory in order to be able to respond flexibly, with delivery usually occurring within a fortnight.
"We try to have a minimum of one month's inventory so we can satisfy most orders," Lam says. "If the order is small it can almost be expected within three days, while for bigger orders we dispatch what we have on hand and ship the balance within three weeks maximum."
Although the company has its own Korasta brand, most of its production is on an OEM basis with order sizes ranging anywhere from a single item to US$1.3m.
"We're very flexible and we'll take small orders," says Lam, noting that customers often want to check out the quality at the beginning of a business relationship.
He adds that PortaPower's major customers in the US and Europe have a long relationship with the firm. "They're very loyal because they understand us very well, and if they have a problem we'll try to solve it with them," Lam maintains. "It's a relationship that's not purely money - we'll ask for their help to get local market information so it's mutually beneficial."
PortaPower, which has ISO 9001 certification, stays on the leading edge by using lithium ion cells, mostly sourced from Japan, although the company also buys from Taiwan and Korea and is currently investigating high quality manufacturers on the mainland.
According to Lam, the Japanese cells meet the high standards of environmental responsibility increasingly demanded by customers in North America and Europe, and also help prolong battery life.
"Battery life is getting longer, and laptops are being made that draw less power," Lam observes. "The Japanese are leading the way with that technology, and those are the cells we use."
Battery packs vary significantly in FOB Hong Kong price, with power supplies for digital cameras costing as little as US$5 and battery packs for laptop computers as much as US$80.
Whatever the product, Lam claims that quality is the company's watchword, and this, he believes, has allowed PortaPower to successfully build its many long-term relationships with clients.
"We know they'll come back for the quality," Lam insists. "It's also part of a mutual relationship we have with our customers - we try to help them and then they help us."
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
PortaPower (HK) Ltd
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