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Machinery repairs to cut imports

The Thai Machinery Association and the Industry Ministry have joined forces to promote onshore repairs of equipment for the auto industry in a bid to reduce the country's machinery imports, which are worth Bt58 billion per year.

Published on July 7, 2007

Due to high demand for old but workable machines, the public-private venture yesterday launched a programme to train 25 engineers from five selected companies in refurbishing computer-numerical-controlled (CNC) machines.

"Our project aims at developing our engineers to be able to repair CNC machines, and also to create advanced machines to boost the country's exports in the future," association president Preecha Temprom said.

The country faces a severe shortage of mechanics skilled in restoring broken-down machines. Plants prefer importing new machines rather than sending their machines abroad for repairs, which is expensive, he said.

There are about 80,000 machines out of order in the country and half of them could be repaired. The cost of repairing a machine is 70 per cent cheaper than purchasing a new one from abroad, he added.

The machinery industry is forecast to see no growth this year due to the rises in the baht and the prices of raw materials such as aluminium in the global market, Preecha said.

"We needed to hike our prices almost 100 per cent, which is in line with raw material costs. As a result, most customers decided to suspend their orders," he said.

Pasu Loharjun, director of the Bureau of Supporting Industries Development, said the bureau was negotiating with the Board of Investment to grant maximum privileges to machinery facilities located in the agency's Zone One, in order to promote the industry the same way as the printing industry.

The bureau also urged the Industry Ministry to create a standard system for upgrading performance in the industry.

"Most of our machinery-makers produce mass-market products, but they should improve their know-how to be more specialised in designing machines that meet demand in the market," he said.

Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul

The Nation


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