Popular Woodworking 2001-10 № 124, страница 9

Popular Woodworking 2001-10 № 124, страница 9

At Hsum Tsao, a Taichung aluminum die cast molding plant, a worker knocks off excess aluminum from a miter saw fence casting (left). Castings for benchtop saws are stacked for machining and assembly later (right).

Chinese government to attract business investment.

• Millions of dollars worth of infrastructure being built by the mainland government.

• An opportunity for more attractive profit margins by manufacturers and importers alike.

• Even a chance for Taiwanese manufacturers to hedge their bets and protect their investments should relations between the mainland and Taiwan lead to a possible invasion. By far, Taiwanese investment in mainland China surpasses that flowing in from any other country.

Will Quality Suffer?

One key question for American consumers is whether the move to the mainland will hurt the quality of woodworking tools. Will the same problems, or even different ones, show up as was the case in the early days following the move to Taiwan?

Virtually all manufacturers/importers agree that things will be different this time. And they have some compelling arguments. The explanation goes something like this: The importers are continuing to work with many of the same Taiwanese

manufacturers with whom they have long, established relationships. These manufacturers are building new facilities in China, not relying on old, state-run factories.

The Taiwanese manufacturers are working with Chinese suppliers who are also investing in the new facilities. The result is a large facility with the separate principal manufacturers under one roof. For example, Box of Delta Machinery described one new plant as composed of an aluminum injection molding operation, a plastic molding operation, a machining facility and paint line — all feeding parts to an assembly area. This type of integrated manufacturing arrangement follows a successful Volkswagen car building model in Mexico. All these various operations are using modern, high-tech equipment. Lastly, only certain types of products lend themselves to this manufacturing method. These are machines produced in large volume and require only a few, highly skilled workers but many more lower skilled laborers to produce. This fits the available labor pool for much of China's developing industrial areas.

High-volume products that have

moved to China are often "bench-top" machines, including power miter box saws, small band saws, jointers, grinders and table saws. High volume hand power tools such as cordless drills and jigsaws also fit the formula. Says Otto of Jet Tools, it's the high-volume consumer-grade tools that will be moving to mainland China. On the other end of the spectrum, says Box of Delta, the big industrial-grade machines such as big jointers and shapers, machines with big castings, have been made in China for some time.

Cautious Optimism

Woodworkers and future woodworkers should be optimistic about prices and the quality of their future woodworking tools and machines. The latest developments in Asian manufacturing point to a possible recipe for success. But all new ventures hit often unforeseen bumps in the road and it's likely the cruise across the Straits of Taiwan will not exclusively be of the "honeymoon" variety. For your own future tool purchases, practice a concept made popular by former President Ronald Reagan — trust, but verify. PW

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Popular Woodworking October 2001

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