SUZHOU, China (May 30) — British engineering group Tomkins P.L.C. has opened plants in China for transmission belts and wiper blade systems as part of a strategy to take advantage of China´s low-cost production.
The plants, located in Suzhou Industrial Park, both came on stream in the past month. Investment data were not divulged.
Tomkins´ Gates Rubber unit operates the transmission belt plant in a joint venture with Japan´s Unitta Corp. The Gates-Unitta Power Transmission (Suzhou) operation makes belts for everything from jogging treadmills to power equipment, though the auto business is a main focus. The plant´s output will be primarily for the local market.
Trico Products operates the wiper blade systems plant, which will have capacity for 20 million blades and 2 million wiper systems annually by 2007. The facility will export 80 percent of its output the first year, primarily to other Asian countries, Australia and Europe.
"One has to be in China because that is where our customers are and where they see growth," said Tomkins CEO James Nicols.
Another Tomkins company, fuel cap maker Stant Manufacturing, will also begin manufacturing in Suzhou in the near future, said Gregory Brown, Stant´s managing director for Asia. Brown sees growing opportunity in the China market, as the government enforces increasingly strict emissions standards.