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Monday June 4, 2012

Malaysia's LED manufacturers expand production to meet global demand

GEORGE TOWN: Light-emitting diode (LED) product companies in the country are either expanding or manufacturing new LED test equipment and high brightness modules this year, as the global demand for LED is rising.

This is also in view of the gradual phasing out of incandescent lighting in Europe and China.

Osram Opto Semiconductors (M) Sdn Bhd has been expanding its LED chip production plant in Bayan Lepas, Penang, while local public-listed LED companies such as Globetronics Technology Bhd, Elsoft Research Bhd, and MMS Ventures Bhd were producing a new range of high brightness LED modules, LED test equipment for high voltage LEDs, and multi-functional LED test equipment this year.

Mueller: ‘China currently accounts for 35% of the global general lighting market, which is expected to rise 45% by 2020.’

Osram Opto Semiconductors managing director Dr Roland Mueller told StarBiz that the LED chip production plant in Bayan Lepas was being expanded to support the demand for LED lighting in China.

“China currently accounts for 35% of the global general lighting market, which is expected to rise 45% by 2020,” he said

Thus, to seize on the opportunities provided by China's LED market, a decision was made to set up new assembly facility in Wuxi, China that would start operations in 2013 to assemble LED chips manufactured in Penang.

Mueller said the use of LEDs for household and commercial buildings, automotive industries, industrial displays, and consumer devices would spur the growth of Osram Opto Semiconductors.

“The consumer device market is big but it is shrinking, as smart phone and tablet manufacturers are switching to the use of organic LEDs.”

Globetronics Technology Bhd chief executive officer Heng Huck Lee said the group was currently working with three US customers on high brightness LED modules.

“We are now in the commercial stage production for multi-colour high brightness LEDs, which can be used in green-house lighting.

He added that the group had no plans to tap into the automotive LED segment, which was still driven by low and medium-power LEDs.

”We are still very focus in the high-power LED segment. We plan to make some of the LED components for smart phones and tablets next year,” he said.

Osram Opto Semiconductors production plants in Bayan Lepas.

ELSOFT Research Bhd has started to build a 90,000 sq ft facility at the company's existing site to cater to the demand for LED test and process handling system in 2013.

“We are getting ready to make LED testers that are able to test high brightness LED requiring high voltage power. The new AC or DC high voltage LED would require a new tester to meet the test specification,” Elsoft CEO C.E. Tan said.

By 2014, incandescent lighting would no longer be available in the replacement market in the country.

MMS Ventures Bhd MD T.K. Sia said the group was now manufacturing for the second half 2012 customised multi-functional LED test equipment that could perform productions process functions such as singulating and sorting.

“The challenge now is to integrate more and more production processes into the LED test equipment, which will help lower the cost of LED production. Japan and the United States provide strong competition in the multi-functional LED test equipment segment,” he said.

A multi-functional LED would be priced in the international market at between US$100,000 and US$500,000, depending the integrated features and functions.

“The first quarter of 2012 was slow but we managed to return to the black, compared with the previous year corresponding period.

“Everyone is still cautious in the LED market, as the selling price of LEDs remained high due to raw material and test costs.

Meanwhile, QAV Technologies Sdn Bhd chief executive See Keat Siang said there would be a surge in the production of LED lighting in the second half 2012.

QAV, an American National Standard Institutes (ANSI) certified company in Bayan Lepas, runs test on LED products that are exported to the US and European markets.

See said there were 20 local LED companies involved in the assembly of LED lighting products for domestic consumption in the household and commercial segment.

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