By Claire Reilly
Yesterday, Current.com.au gave an insight into the changes in the television manufacturing industry as viewed by one of the big Chinese companies in the industry, TCL.
In part two of our special feature, the global chief sales officer of TCL Multimedia Technologies, E Hao, speaks about TCL’s new factory which is producing 8.5 generation LCD panels, making it one of the most advanced in the world.
Current.com.au: Tell us about this 8.5 generation LCD production facility. How does it work?
E Hao: Basically a TV panel is only a small part of what we call the ‘mother glass’. Before with the 6th generation, for example, the mother glass was smaller so you could cut perhaps three panels from it. But right now, we are using a bigger piece of mother glass, so you can cut 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 panels, and so on.
But the large mother glass costs a lot of money and it’s a big investment to set it up the facilities. So only the big players will be able to do it – it’s a very capital intensive industry.
C: Do you see it as a worthwhile investment?
EH: In order to be the leader you’ve got to do it. But many players only want to focus on assembly and they will eventually lose competitiveness. That’s why we invested $3 billion in this manufacturing facility. I always tell the sales team, ‘Imagine how many TVs we’re going to sell to make it up!’ That’s what we have to do.
But actually, the investment is not only from us. You may not know, but Samsung invested 15 per cent in our factory. They saw the quality and capability from TCL and that’s why they invested. And vice versa – for Samsung’s new factory, we will invest 10 per cent. So that’s our strategy going forward to ensure we are maintaining competitiveness in the industry.
C: Tell us a bit more about the actually factory itself. What are the production facilities like?
EH: The factory is in Shenzhen [in Southern China, just north of Hong Kong] and it’s huge. If you close your eyes and think of a Chinese factory a few things come to mind: people, screwdrivers, production lines. But this factory is fully automatic with robots, not many people, no dust and pure high-tech technology. It’s like a James Bond movie, when they go into the final big base! So it’s exciting. That’s why every time we bring our partners into our factory they are truly amazed.
But panels are only one element, you need the backlight, the assembly, the whole nine yards.
C: What is the main message to Australians about TCL?
EH: For consumers our main strategy is affordable innovation. A lot of innovations out there are good technologies but they’re not affordable. We want to fully leverage our resources, our competitiveness from China, and also our global scale, to bring the innovations at a more affordable level for the Australian household.
TCL's chief sales officer E Hao with Miss IFA at the IFA trade show in Berlin. Hao is pictured with the 26-inch Ice Screen – a portable, tuner-free TV designed for younger consumers to watch online content.