Inventec to set up smart factory in Southeast Asia in 2016


TAIPEI — Inventec Corp. (英業達), a major Taiwanese supplier of Chinese phone brand Xiaomi Inc., is thinking of setting up an intelligent manufacturing plant in Indonesia or the Philippines next year as part of its global expansion.

The new facility would initially manufacture smartphones and PC-related products such as all-in-one computers, commercial tablets and mini-desktop computers based on customer demand, Inventec Chairman Richard Lee (李詩欽) said during a break at an event marking a cloud partnership between Microsoft Corp. and Chunghwa Telecom Co. (中華電信).

Comparing the two possible locations, Lee said Indonesia has a huge labor force thanks to the country’s 200-million population, while people aged under 20 account for nearly 50 percent of the Philippines population, indicating a younger labor force with a higher acceptance of cloud computing applications at factories.

Moreover, the Philippines is geographically closer to Taiwan than Indonesia, which can save time for business trips, he said.

“We’re not going to copy our traditional labor-intensive Chinese factories, which have also begun upgrades to the ‘Industry 4.0’ model,” Lee said, adding that Inventec is discussing the new facility with its clients and has not finalized the plan.

The chairman noted that the new manufacturing site could be set up sometime in 2016 because Inventec needs to focus at present on its Indian factory, which was established earlier this year and has started commercial production.

He also mentioned that Inventec’s current Chinese plants in Shanghai and Nanjing would begin to deploy Web-based intelligent manufacturing systems after the company signed a letter of intent on Monday with Siemens PLM Software, a subsidiary of German engineering firm Siemens AG, to cash in on a global push into upgrading manufacturing operations.

The Monday agreement is part of a global push into the “Industry 4.0” era, which aims to manufacture more efficiently by creating a networked, flexible, and dynamically self-organizing manufacturing process for highly customizable products, according to Siemens.

Inventec began its “smart manufacturing” campaign in July 2014 and has bought 300 robotic arms from several suppliers to install in its factories in China.

The company said in June this year that it expects to purchase another 3,000 robotic arms from July this year to June next year at a cost of around US$20 million to US$30 million, putting roughly 5,000 workers out of work.