Taiwan’s leading machinery maker, Hiwin Technologies Co (上銀科技), on Saturday said its new products — the keys to developing “Industry 4.0” — are expected to start volume production next year.
The company said it is in talks with local machinery and semiconductor associations on any future collaboration in Industry 4.0, especially in the integrated circuit (IC) industry.
Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is a term used to describe an emphasis on smart manufacturing, such as factory automation and environmental surveillance, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It could be Taiwan’s core competitive market for the next 50 years or even century, Hiwin chairman Eric Chuo (卓永財) said.
“Hiwin has always been dedicated to promoting Industry 4.0,” Chuo said at an event in Taipei on Saturday. “Our new ball screw and liner guideway products are to begin mass production next year, which is unprecedented.”
Chuo, who is also the president of the Taiwan Machine Tool and Accessory Builders’ Association (台灣工具機暨零組件公會) and the Taiwan Automation Intelligence and Robotics Association (台灣智慧自動化與機器人協會) — did not elaborate on details of the products.
However, he touted the company’s performance in both manufacturing and design, saying that Hiwin’s uniaxial robot has won two major international design awards this year, including a Red Dot Design Award and a iF Product Design Award.
Taiwan is the fourth-largest machine tools exporter in the world, behind Japan, Germany and Italy.
However, in the Industry 4.0 era, the industry needs to address the issue of sensors used in the IoT infrastructure, Chuo said
“We believe Taiwan’s IC design is in a time of transformation,” Chuo said. “Only after we develop industrial ICs and sensors that have a high profit margin can we stop depending on all of our industrial sensors from imports.”
In order to promote Industry 4.0 in Taiwan, Chou said he has invited Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (台灣半導體協會) director-general Nicky Lu (盧超群), POSA Machinery Co (普森精密主軸) president Peng Sen-rong (彭森榮) and representatives from related associations to discuss how to integrate Taiwan’s toolmakers, machinery and semiconductor resources.
Participants in that meeting are scheduled to sign a memorandum of cooperation some time in the next two months, hoping to set up a platform and train more people in industrial IC design, Chuo said.
The company’s board approved plans to construct new plants in Suzhou, China, and in Taichung, costing NT$378.02 million and NT$370 million respectively (US$11.54 million and US$11.29 million).
The board also announced its dividend payout plan of NT$2.3 per share — including a cash dividend of NT$2.19 per share and a stock dividend of 0.5 percent per share — based on earnings per share of NT$6.1 the company made last year. The planned dividend payout is lower than the NT$3.5 Hiwin distributed in 2014.
Hiwin reported that net income plunged 31.71 percent annually to NT$1.64 billion last year, with consolidated revenue decreasing 1.36 percent to NT$14.88 billion.
The weak macro environment and a lack of recovery in the China automation market might have Hiwin see another drop in total revenue and profit this year, Macquarie Capital Securities Ltd said in a note on Feb. 26.
Overall, Taiwanese machinery makers generated NT$968.1 billion in total production value last year, down 0.48 percent from 2014, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) said in January.