Report: Taiwan TFT-LCD equipment firms paving solar inroads

May 3, 2007 – Some equipment suppliers to Taiwanese makers of thin-film transistor liquid-crystal displays (TFT-LCD) are looking to find even greener pastures in the latest hot market: solar cell manufacturing, notes the Taiwan Economic News.

Due to limits of current economies-of-scale, solar cell panel suppliers don’t yet use automated equipment, instead relying upon manual labor. That’s where conveying equipment makers — such as Gallant Precision Machining Co. Ltd., Mirle Automation Corp., and Kenmec Mechanical Engineering Co. Ltd. — see a potentially lucrative business opportunity.

The paper cited Mirle CFO/spokesperson Hsu Ching-wang saying that his company sees the solar cell equipment market as the next promising industry after TFT-LCDs, particularly as solar cells see increasing adoption in consumer markets (e.g. housing) and support from various domestic markets, e.g. the US, Japan, and Europe.

Kenmec is the first of the pack to tap the solar cell market, having started making automation equipment six months ago and already with its first order in hand from a local solar-cell maker, with delivery slated for 3Q07, according to chairman Hsieh Ching-fu.

Meanwhile, Mirle has begun deploying prototypes of automated solar-cell conveying equipment, which with “minor modifications” could be ready for commercialization, the paper noted. And Gallant says it has assigned a task force to explore possibilities for developing solar-cell equipment.


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