27 November 2009

Nicera transfers China operations to Subic; infuses additional $1M for expansion

Ultrasonic sensor-manufacturer Nicera Philippines, Inc. formally announced its second expansion project in this free port, committing another $1 million for its Subic facility after the firm decided to close down its China operations and transfer it here.

“We will expand our current product line with new merchandise because we are going to transfer our China plant to Philippines,” said Takashi Morimoto, president and general manager of Nicera Philippines, during the formal contract signing with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Tuesday.

He added that the relocation to Subic was prompted by the one-child policy of the Chinese government, which had resulted in “insufficient workforce” for the firm’s China factory.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza welcomed the $1-million expansion project and lauded Nicera for “taking successful steps in meeting the challenges posed by recession head-on.”

Arreza also said that the transfer of Nicera’s China operations to the local facility would hasten the resurgence of export production in Subic Bay.

Takashi said that upon completion of its expansion project, Nicera will be hiring 110 additional workers for its Subic facility where it would manufacture new electronics products such as pyrosensor modules and pyroelectric infrared sensors used in home-security lighting systems.

These products are used in the assembly of the so-called Ecopa ball and stick, that combined with another system with voice recorder, allows the detection of motion in the dark. The system emits white light diodes upon detection and activates the playback of a recorded message.

Takashi said this new product line would be manufactured in a new building to be built in a 15,000-square meter lot at the Subic Techno Park (STEP) sometime next year.

He added that the firm aims to produce 50,000 pieces of pyrosensor modules and one million pieces of pyroelectric infrared sensors a month.

As of now, Nicera employs 136 direct workers and 553 employees from sub-contractors. By 2010, Nicera is aiming to raise its employment to 2,000 as the company embarks on manufacturing another product line of gas sensors.

Starting out with 22 employees, Nicera began its Philippine operations in the Subic Bay Freeport in 2001, infusing $25 million to manufacture ceramic sensors called ultrasonic transducers that were installed in bumpers as a safety gadget for Japan-made vehicles.

Utrasonic transducers are designed to detect obstructions from different ranges, producing varied warning sounds depending on the distance of the obstruction.

In September 2007, Nicera undertook a $4-million expansion project to meet the growing demand for high-tech products in the global market. It hired additional 400 workers for this expansion.

Aside from electronic sensors, the Nicera group of companies also produce ceramic filters, traps, discriminators and resonators, top quality ferrite core for power switches and transformers, micro-chip components for CR-ROM, floppy drives and precision motors, and fly-back transformers.

During the contract signing, STEP executive vice president Shintaro Tsuji also expressed confidence that more Japanese investors would be coming to Subic because of its nice environment, a supportive SBMA administration, good seaport facilities, and its proximity to the airport in the Clark Freeport.

“Subic Technopark is recovering [from the recession],” Tsuji said. “In the middle of the worldwide recession, Nicera is still investing more. That is very good proof of Subic’s potential,” he added.

A total of 45 companies, out of the 1,028 firms operating in the Subic Bay Freeport, are Japanese-owned, with most of them located in the Subic Technopark. Fifteen of these firms are Japanese-Filipino joint ventures. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: Subic Techno Park representative Ichiro Tsuji (left), Nicera Phils. president and general manager Takashi Morimoto, and SBMA administrator and CEO Armand Arreza sign an investment contract for Nicera’s $1-million expansion project.