PIE rides on high-tech wave

GEORGE TOWN: PIE Industrial Bhd, an associate business unit of iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, is hoping to reach a revenue of some RM1.3bil for the financial year 2022 (FY22).

The electric vehicle (EV), robotic household appliances and printed-circuit-board assembly (PCBA) industries will be among the key drivers of growth in FY22.

Group managing director Alvin Mui said Foxconn’s decision to start an EV plant in Thailand next year would allow PIE to supply its wire harness and cable assembly products, boosting the division’s business in Thailand.

“According to Foxconn, its Thailand plant will initially cater only to the Thai market but exports to neighbouring countries within the Asean trade bloc are part of its mid-term plan.

“In addition to that, Japan’s Nikkei Asia reported that the planned annual capacity for the Thai plant will be between 150,000 and 200,000 cars,” Mui told StarBiz.

According to a recent Fortune Business Insights report, the EV market is expected to grow to US$1.32 trillion (RM5.48 trillion) in 2028 from US$287.3bil (RM1.19 trillion) in 2021, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 24%.

Mui said the group’s PCBA business would also grow with the demand for printed-circuit boards (PCBs).

“An increase in the demand for PCBs means that our PCBA division will be busy mounting the boards with electronic components.

“Rising EV sales will propel the growth of the PCB market in the forecast period.

“PCBs are used to connect electrical components in EVs, such as control and power management, audio and display systems, and to produce charging stations for EV users to charge their vehicles,” Mui said.

According to Mui, the group expects its revenue to hit the RM1bil-mark for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2021.

Mui said the group was confident of the revenue because of the recurring orders for its electronic manufacturing services (EMS) division.

He said these orders will also have a positive impact on its bottom line.

“Our new digital entertainment equipment business is expected to contribute about 50% of revenue this year.

“The industrial electronic, telecommunications, and raw wire and cable assembly segments will generate the remaining 50%.

“We manufacture PCBA products, metal and plastic parts as well as box-build items for customers based in Asia, Europe and the United States,” he said.

For the first six months of FY21, the group posted RM24.3mil in net profit on the back of RM498.5mil turnover.

Mui said PIE’s revenue from raw wire and cable business would continue to grow, with a consistent profit margin in the near future.

“Although the copper price has increased since the end of FY20, the division can maintain its profit margin as the selling price is pegged to the copper price as determined by the market.

“While this division is also seriously affected by the global spread of Covid-19 and movement restrictions, it is expected to maintain its profit margin and secure more orders,” he added.

Mui said PIE would build an additional RM10mil warehouse with 80,000-sq-ft floor space in Seberang Jaya, Penang, next year, in line with its expansion plans.

PIE’s digital entertainment, industrial electronic and telecommunications business fall under its EMS division, which has the potential to grow in the long run on orders from existing and new customers.

“To enhance our competitive edge as a key EMS player, we have invested in automation and a new research and development division at the beginning of FY21, so as to broaden our manufacturing capabilities, reducing labour dependency and for better product consistency,” he said.

In March 2021, PIE allocated a record-high budget allocation of RM150mil to purchase a RM20mil manufacturing facility and add new production lines to secure new customers and achieve revenue target of RM1bil for FY21.

The group expanded its operations because it is fully utilising the 400,000-sq-ft production space at its four manufacturing facilities in Seberang Jaya.

“The extension of the 150,000-sq-ft new plant should be ready in early 2022. We expect to fully utilise the new production floor by the middle of 2022,” Mui added.

As the group introduces more automation for its forthcoming expansion, it will engage more operators and engineers for the new plant.

PIE will also invest heavily in automation and robot-assisted operations for the box-build assembly operations.

“We will work with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to institute advance manufacturing capabilities so as to enhance Malaysia’s competitive edge as a preferred manufacturing destination,” Mui said.

PIE will install six high-speed and high-precision surface mount technology (SMT) lines for the new plant.

“We will also increase the existing plant’s plastic injection line capacity by 30%. The group presently has 21 SMT production lines,” he added.

In terms of contribution by geographical locations, Malaysia remains as the main contributor for PIE, generating over 90% of the group’s turnover, followed by Thailand and Singapore.

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