Piper Plastics (Thailand) Co., Ltd. conducts high-tolerance machining and assembly of plastic components, with a strong emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction. The company caters to the medical devices, semiconductors, aerospace, food and energy industries. Supplying top brands such as Applied Materials, Medtronic, Roche Medical, Flextronics, Benchmark and Lockheed Martin, its products go into everything from computers to jet engines to off-shore oil drilling rigs.
Production began in May 2012 at the company’s 2,000 sqm factory in Rayong Province. Besides precision machining, work at the plant stresses cost-efficiency through very minimal waste.
“We process what we call ‘net near shapes,” said Kevin Watkins, general manager of Piper Plastics (Thailand). “Typical machining from available plastic shapes may waste about 80% from a square of material, but we have reduced that to just 15%. This saves the customer a lot of money.”
While plastic products make up 90% of production at the factory, some metal components are also manufactured, using mainly aluminum.
A full-service plastics machining, fabrication and distribution company, the U.S. parent Piper Plastics, Inc. was established in 1980. Its main operations are located in Libertyville, Illinois and Chandler, Arizona. Besides the new plant in Thailand, the company has a facility in China.
Piper Plastics’ competitive edge is that it uses only the best materials and it meets or even exceeds customers’ expectations by employing state-of-the-art equipment in the designing and manufacture of quality products. “We pride ourselves in our quality control. You know that you will be getting a good product up to your tight specs,” Watkins said.
To stay at the forefront of the industry, Piper Plastics invests heavily in R&D of processes and plastic materials that continue to achieve higher temperatures, better strength and longer- lasting wear.
When seeking to expand in Asia, Piper Plastics had investigated several low-cost countries and concluded that Thailand offered the best capability. The country’s strategic export location at the heart of Southeast Asia and the benefits offered by the Thai government were seen as major advantages. “It’s also United States-friendly here,” Watkins noted.
The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) grants a generous range of fiscal and non-tax incentives to investors in the plastics industry. Tax-based benefits include exemption or reduction of import duties on machinery and raw materials, and corporate income tax exemptions and reductions. Non-tax incentives include permission to bring in foreign workers, own land, and take or remit foreign currency abroad. Additionally, foreign businesses are entitled to 100% ownership.
Randall White, president of Piper Plastics, Inc., praised the BOI’s investment-promotion measures. “The BOI incentives were very important in our decision to choose Thailand as the location for our manufacturing facility in Southeast Asia,” he said from the company’s Arizona site. “The BOI benefits encourage Piper Plastics to grow our business in Thailand, and they make it easy to import any needed base polymers that are not currently available in the country. It is better here in Thailand because we would face added taxes in China and other low-cost countries.” White pointed out that the vigorous state of the Thai plastics industry is another encouragement. “There is a good industrial base in Thailand. All in all, the country serves as a prime location for us to better serve our customers in Singapore and other countries in Asia,” he noted.
The capability and demeanor of Thai workers is a plus as well. “Thais are fantastic,” Watkins said. “We have really great workers at this plant, all the way from our office manager to our machinists. They are very well qualified, very well educated.” Steady progress is anticipated at Piper Plastics (Thailand). “We are excited to grow our high-quality, on-time-delivery, low-cost Thailand manufacturing facility to support all of Asia and even the U.S.,” Watkins said.
Ideally, the company aims to manufacture more polymer compounds and shapes in Thailand to reduce import costs. Piper Plastics also wants to make it easier for other manufacturing enterprises in the country to obtain plastic materials, as well as the finished parts from machining or molding operations.
The Rayong factory will bring on more machines and employees in 4Q this year, possibly ramping up a second shift. Although production is to remain substantially export-oriented at the plant, sales within Thailand have already started as well.
Environmental protection and social care are also very important to Piper Plastics. “We recycle materials to promote a green environment. Moreover, we provide a healthy and comfortable workplace so that our people can happily grow and prosper with the company,” Watkins said.