- June 04, 2012, Tom Bezigian
I just spent a week at an Malaysian blown film and bag manufacturer, and I have to tell you the film and bags coming off those lines were as good as any I have seen anywhere, including the best known names in the USA. And the testing and quality procedures were good enough to qualify for any Japanese customer. All this without US made equipment. Grant it, there was some German equipment, but by and large, all the equipment was of Asian origin.
I'm not surprised so much over the quality, as that has existed for years. I was a little surprised over the efficiency. While some machines ran what I would call slowly, many were world class, with bag machine rates in excess of 200 bpm. The combination of high quality, efficiency and low cost makes this region a powerful competitor. In addition, with labor rates somewhere between 3-10% of that in the US, it is easy to see how Asian suppliers can easily compete with Western suppliers of film products.
As I've said for quite some time, there are three things that any supplier offers its customers... Quality, Service and Price, and in the long run, only two of those three can be optimized. In the case of Asian manufacturers, one would think that service would be compromised due to long lead times. However, if the supplier sets up a distribution chain, then all three can be optimized, making the supplier a truly powerful competitor.
All in all it was a delightful trip. One warning... stay away from the durian!