The view on Taiwan fasteners: Trade wars, raw materials & automotive recovery

In the April edition of Torque Magazine, we asked eight Taiwan fastener companies for their views on the fastener market and gleaned insights on trends, challenges and opportunities that impact on the global market…

Trade wars and anti-dumping investigations have impacted on the Taiwan fasteners industry, according to Taiwan fastener companies, talking to Torque Magazine. Some saw the US-China trade war and heightened political tensions between Australia and China contribute to market volatility, while others saw global trade investigations, like that of the EU on Chinese fasteners, as an opportunity for Taiwan-based fastener businesses.

The recovery of the automotive sector since its troubled Q1 2020 also proved a significant talking point, not least with hybrid and electric car manufacturers leading to new requirements of fastener producers. One manufacturer said that lockdown-fatigued consumers were splurging on products in sectors like automotive.

Another area of consensus was on raw material shortages and associated rising costs, with longer lead times noted by our pundits...

Taiwan Fasteners: Bi-Mirth

Are you seeing growing demand from any particular export markets?
Since the outbreak of Covid‐19 in 2020, most people have been forced to stay or work from home. This circumstance has given people more time to renovate, build, or DIY in their own houses. As a result, the demand for wood construction screws is rapidly growing in the US market.

What kind of developments and investments have you recently made at Bi-Mirth?
In the middle of 2020, we began to research and develop a new thread type of chipboard screw. In addition to the high quality of this new design, we have also achieved a low drilling torque, so that the screws can be drilled into wood faster. We also keep refining our manufacturing equipment. We have purchased a multi die bolt former and threading machine to increase our production capacity. In recent years, Bi‐Mirth has committed to being a worldwide significant supplier, especially for full thread and long sized screws.

Bi‐Mirth welcomes anyone interested in its screws by email

Taiwan Fasteners: Chun Chan Co

What kind of trends are you seeing?
Hybrid and electric cars are slowly replacing traditional cars. We are also seeing people increasingly emphasise the concept of equipment automation. Chun Chan Co., Ltd has developed new automatic equipment, combined with optical and vision techniques to make different kinds of sorting machines that can inspect customer’s parts automatically.

Are you seeing raw material shortages?
Yes, we have noticed this, the price of raw materials has been getting higher and higher. In addition, a few months ago a container shortage has also reinforced rising prices.

Are you seeing growing demand from any particular export markets?
We have noticed increased demand from the electronic supply chain, so the price of electronic products could see a dramatic rise.

What about developments at Chun Chan Co?
At Chun Chan Co., Ltd we have devoted ourselves to researching automatic equipment and visual inspection, so we combine robot mechanisms with CCD techniques to do inspection for a range of product types. In addition, we have also developed AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) and automatic warehouse. If readers are interested in these, they are free to contact via Ms. Fiona Chang
Tel: +886 7 6235228

Taiwan Fasteners: Easylink

What kind of trends are you seeing in the market at the moment?
In recent months, after the COVID‐19 impact, we’ve seen increased demand for metal‐made automotive components from the car tier‐1 industrial field, also importers, distributors in North America and European markets. Demand from car makers was very strong from end‐Q3 through Q4 2020, so the peak could be Q1 and Q2 2021, which could see demand outstrip supply. Easylink’s production was at full capacity since Q4, 2020 till Q1, 2021.

We’ve also seen a rapid spike in shipping costs, notably for container shipments, play their part. This is due to disrupted trade flows globally, and greater port disruption, relating to Covid‐19. Easylink received many back flow purchases of furniture screws from the EU market since Q3 & Q4 2020 after many DIY retailing shops reopened.

At the same time, we see the EU’s anti‐dumping investigation on Chinese fasteners, which is a window of opportunity for Taiwan. Easylink has taken a measured approach to reintroducing capacity.

Are you seeing raw material shortages?
Yes. The answer is positive. Currently, the supplier‐side has suffered shortage of materials and longer lead times than ever. Fortunately, Easylink has not suffered from this problem as we have built a long‐term‐relationship with CSC (China Steel Corp), the largest steel maker here in Taiwan.

Are you seeing growing demand from any particular export markets?
Most Taiwanese suppliers are growing their fastener production after the lockdowns in the EU and North American markets.

Have you had any recent business developments?
Due to the surge in the automotive and DIY markets, Easylink has got more production facilities, bolt formers, thread tapping machines and advanced optical sorting machines in order to increase capacity and make quality approaching “zero” defect standards. Particularly, automation investment like AS/RS system and IOT systems all make our work more efficient than ever.

Easylink has also full‐scale replaced the thread rolling die process by using “Cryogenics”, made to extend tool‐life in order to make cost savings in our plant.

Easylink continues to upgrade the precision of measuring equipment to give customers 100% satisfaction. In Q1 2020, Easylink purchased a bend test machine for the Ting Ray factory, our chipboard screw manufacturing plant in Vietnam, which will be able to escalate the quality to DIY markets.

Sunny Lai, sales manager
Tel: +886 7 725 1034, ext. 301

Taiwan Fasteners: Funda Fastener

What kind of trends are you seeing in the market at the moment?
2020 was a year to remember. There was COVID‐19, a global pandemic that transformed consumer spending habits, an ongoing US‐China trade war in the background, heightened political tensions between Australia and China, and a stock market crash followed by a spectacular 68% rise in the S&P500 by year‐end, amongst other things. The market seemingly replicated the stock market in its volatility. During May and June 2020, we went through our toughest months, numbers we had not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. However, with the news of vaccinations, etc, the market started to show signs of rebound from September 2020 and orders started to exponentially grow until January 2021, where we set a new record for our highest monthly revenue in 55 years.

Although the business is doing well, we are facing another set of challenges such as material and labour shortages, logistical difficulties, exchange rate losses with the Taiwan dollar soaring 5.6% against the US dollar in 2020, steep increase in the raw material prices and urgent orders due the huge spikes in demand from the market. This is the current trend that many industries across Taiwan are facing right now. We have been in the industry for more than 55 years and we haven’t seen anything like this before: 2020 is a year to remember.

Are you seeing raw material shortages?
Yes, since September last year as the domestic and international markets began to show signs of recovery. We believe the shortages were due to a number of factors, such as slower production in China, the trade war between China and Australia, and booming demand in the shipping industries. As we experienced increased order volumes from pent up demand and foresaw continuing raw material shortages (and rising costs), we strategically increased our raw material inventory and adjusted our safety stock levels to ensure we could continue to produce and deliver our products to our customers on time.

Are you seeing growing demand from any markets?
We are seeing growth from all our export markets globally, with a noticeable increase from our US customer base. We believe the demand is coming from retaliatory consumption as the worst of COVID‐19 is behind those in many regions in the world. Fatigued by lockdowns and social distancing requirements, consumers are splurging on a wide range of products within the automotive, marine, recreational vehicle and power generator sectors to make up for their reduced spending during the pandemic.

How about recent developments at Funda?
We have acquired machines to maximise production and to eliminate CNC processes which is a saving for our customers. We made investments to increase capacity for cold forming, threading, lathing, straightening, optical sorting and automatic packaging. Two multistation drilling centres were acquired to meet the demand for union bolt (benjo bolt) production.

After the restructuring of our new technical team, we are ready for our next phase of growth. Our team has expertise and capabilities in progression design, FEMA (finite element method analysis), production technology, process optimisation and standardisation.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Torque Magazine, which you can read in its entirety online. If you are part of the fastener, tool and related industries you can subscribe to the magazine or sign up to our weekly newsletter.