1 Oct 2003
Tailoring Motors To Industry Needs(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 04,2003)
Vol 4, 2003
Small But Successful
Tailoring Motors To Industry Needs
Igarashi Electric Works (HK) Ltd
Igarashi Electric Works (HK) Ltd designs, develops and manufactures small, permanent magnet DC motors for various consumer, business and office products
Adaptablility is the catchword of one of Hong Kong's most successful motor manufacturers. Igarashi Electric Works (HK) Ltd works closely with its customers to develop new and best-selling products, according to assistant director of sales and marketing Stephen Chui.
"When our company started about 30 years ago, our production was 100% OEM-based," he reveals. "But now, we also produce our own standard products such as motors for vacuum cleaners."
Igarashi designs, develops and manufactures an array of small, permanent magnet DC motors for various products, such as grass clippers, automobiles, power tools, instant cameras and office automation systems.
"We see ourselves as tailors since we mainly make motors according to customers' specifications," Chui adds. "Some of our customers' best sellers have been revised and modified so that they fit in many standard electrical appliances."
Chui believes Igarashi's exports of motors for use in automobile applications such as seats, locking systems and window wipers should steadily escalate by the end of 2003 with impressive growth in orders from vehicle makers.
"We are very confident with the automobile segment because of the growing demand for all types of vehicles in recent years that has dramatically increased demand for motors," he says.
These motors are manufactured at a factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland that employs 1,000 workers including 40 engineers, technicians and quality control staff.
The plant boasts its own R&D department where every product is developed and thoroughly checked before entering mass production on one of eight production lines.
Igarashi utilises high quality materials such as copper wire, magnets, shafts, carbon brushes and ABS from Japan, Taiwan, the US and the mainland to produce its products, all of which bear the Igarashi logo.
The automotive industry consumes about 70% of Igarashi's motors. "Our major markets are Europe and the US and overall business has increased slightly in recent times," says Chui.
Igarashi has recently upgraded its R&D capabilities, marketing, quality control and management to stay competitive.
Chui says Igarashi will continue to invest more resources in the automobile market, including technical training for staff, product design and production facilities. "Our Japanese parent company in Kawasaki will also focus on developing new motors for industrial and home use," he says.
Igarashi recorded 20% growth in motor exports for the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2002, Chui notes. "It is not easy to develop a new motor for vehicles, as it may take a year or two," he explains. "Fortunately, we have been in the business for years and it is therefore not difficult for us to maintain steady growth."
Vehicle sales in the US have been growing strongly in the past 1-2 years because many automobile makers offered 0% interest to attract consumers. "This has helped boost our motor business, although global economies have been weak in the past 2-3 years," Chui says.
Igarashi will shortly begin to diversify by making modules such as telephone handsets, but he admits that the company is facing difficulties under the present tight international economic conditions.
"We do have difficulties in controlling our costs but we can resolve this by sourcing more materials locally and from the mainland," Chui maintains. "We also need to train more technical workers in our Shenzhen factory so that they can handle motor production professionally with minimal supervision from Hong Kong."
The ISO 9001-certified manufacturer obtained ISO 14001 in May this year and is set to gain QS 9000 certification, further underlining its commitment to quality products and service for DC motor users worldwide.
WRITTEN BY MARGARET CHAN
Igarashi Electric Works (HK) Ltd