6 Sept 2006
Fully Focused(HKTDC Optical,2007)
Eagle Way Mfg Ltd
|Eagle Way Mfg Ltd offers a wide range of plastic lenses and plastic, Monel and stainless steel frames|
It often pays to be flexible enough to adapt or even switch from one industry to another, and Eagle Way Mfg Ltd is a good example.
Although established in 1988, it was not until 2005 that the name Eagle Way Mfg Ltd came into use. Previously the firm produced mainly audio and video cassette tapes for international markets.
Then, in 2004, the company purchased a plot of land and constructed a new factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. This event also heralded a vastly changed production and marketing environment.
"By 1995, the audio and video cassette sector was already in steep decline, so we decided to shift the focus and added optical goods such as reading glasses and sunglasses to our range," recalls marketing manager Alvin Lau.
"When we moved to the mainland, it seemed best to cease all cassette production and concentrate on optical goods. By 2005, business in cassettes had fallen from 20 TEUs per month to just one or two," he adds.
The new plant has a total floor area of 15,000 square metres spread over three levels. "In the past, we hired more than 1,000 people," says Lau. "Today, with automation and more advanced technology and associated machinery we can do more with a workforce of just 300 and our production capacity reaches 50,000 frames per month."
With a full complement of new injection-moulding machines, Eagle Way can now produce the lenses as well as plastic frames for some types of spectacles where the use of high-grade plastic is appropriate. The firm's largest markets are Korea, followed by Europe and the US. "Europe demands more stylish frames while Korea seeks colourful models."
FOB Hong Kong unit prices for plastic frame spectacles and sunglasses manufactured by Eagle Way range from US$20-55. Monel designs cost between US$15-35, while the stainless steel range sells from US$30-55. "However, we also have simple plastic sunglasses that sell from about US$15 a pair," says Lau.
"Stainless steel has great strength and is suitable for today's trendier designs," Lau continues, "while Monel has the advantage of being easier to work with. Titanium offers advantages of lightness and strength, but also requires higher technical skills and the use of memory-retentive materials to bring about some ergonomics."
Delivery time for stainless steel frames is about 45 days after confirmation of order. "Less complex models can be delivered within 30 days," says Lau.
Although strictly an OEM maker, Eagle Way has three designers on its R&D team. "Part of their brief is to travel overseas, pick up new ideas, and determine market demands and how different materials are used," says Lau.
"Our senior management has a long history in the use of plastics, injection-moulding techniques and the building of moulds that give a clean finished product," says Lau.
"The capability to manufacture plastic lenses is a valuable asset that increases our control over the whole production process. We do not have to depend on suppliers, we can better meet delivery schedules and we can offer better prices to our customers. We can also buy raw materials ahead of time," he adds.
Most frames come with acetate temple tips. "Last year, styles and trends were based around two colours and that can only be done in stainless steel as Monel is not suitable," says Lau. "We use acetate for the necks and temples of stainless steel frames."
Lau says he makes regular trips to the mainland to accompany clients and to attend to quality control. "There are inspections prior to every delivery and our policy is for QC staff to be available when a client visits," he advises.
With its competitive pricing in the spectacles and sunglasses lines, Eagle Way Mfg maintains a keen perspective on the optical goods market.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Eagle Way Mfg Ltd