Tokuyama: Growing in Sarawak despite challenges

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Tokuyama Malaysia President Akira Sanuki
Akira Sanuki, President Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn.Bhd.

Tokuyama Corporation, the Japanese high-technology firm, has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., which is setting up two production plants located in the Samalaju Industrial Park in Sarawak, Malaysia. Tokuyama Malaysia took a giant step by being the first foreign investor in SCORE with polycrystalline silicon production factories that will manufacture the main component for solar cells that produce clean sustainable energy.  The first plant is already completed and will start production in the middle of 2013. Inside Investor asked President Akira Sanuki about the progress of the company’s second plant in Sarawak and the challenges being faced.

Q: What is the construction progress of the second Tokuyama Malaysia plant?

A: More than half of the construction is done. As the process is complicated and takes more time than other factory facilities due to the nature and complexity of the chemicals and materials used here, we need a careful and thorough inspection process for each step. Parallel to construction, we are training our local operators for carrying out the work safely and efficiently.

Q: Have you seen any improvements in infrastructure to facilitate your activities? Are you still facing issues with regard to this?

A: The state government is very helpful and supportive. Our project success reflects on the entire project in SCORE. Therefore, we have strong trust and the government and Tokuyama support each other. Since we decided to set up our factories in Samalaju, we have had many discussions surrounding the various infrastructure issues with the state government, we advised them and they advised us. To be an industrial park operating on a global scale, crucial infrastructure has to be provided as soon as possible. However road access from Bintulu to Samalaju still remains an issue. The federal government has done some work, but 80 per cent of the road is still single-lane, and we worry this to cause a lot of issues, for example when the single lane road is being blocked by an accident. In that case, we cannot transport staff and materials and cannot ship out our products on the road. The problem exists not only for our company but for all companies here, including the government offices and everyone who works in Samalaju.

Q: Do you foresee any complications for 2013 – if so, of what nature?

A: Our project has been well executed so far and we have had a successful 2012. However, 2013 will be tougher for us. Since operations in the first plant is starting, we have to make sure that all facilities are working well as designed and that the shipment of our products is processed in a smooth and efficient way without issues, especially at the port in Bintulu. And we have to complete staff training to operate safely and with confidence.

Q: You export mainly back to Japan. Will Tokuyama also supply the Malaysian market or other customers?

A: There is the possibility for Malaysia to become a direct downstream candidate. I am expecting Malaysia to become one of the advanced countries for sustainable clean energy and solar energy business, thus there should be upcoming demand.

Q: What is the plan for Tokuyama over the next 18 months in terms of construction and further development?

A: We now have our first plant and are proceeding with construction of the second one, which we hope to get finished mechanical completion by 2014 and to be in full operation by 2015. If all goes as planned, we will reach a capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year upon completion.

Q: What is the ratio of local vs. expatriate employees among your staff? Where do you recruit human capital?          

A: Many of the employees are Sarawakians. However, we also have Japanese employees here at the moment to transfer the required technical skills. There are 400 Sarawakians and 100 Japanese right now at the first plant, but most of the Japanese will go back once they have passed on their technical knowledge. We see the next step is to train them into managerial level staff.

Q: What is the future of the Samalaju industrial park, in your view?

A: I want companies like Tokuyama, Press Metal, Pertama and OM Holdings to start operations and become a real industrial park busy with lots of different activities so there is a variety of combination work across the industries in the vicinity. Finally, there should also be a sense of a township within Samalaju, including all the necessary shops, schools, services and amenities.

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Akira Sanuki, President Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn.Bhd.

Tokuyama Corporation, the Japanese high-technology firm, has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., which is setting up two production plants located in the Samalaju Industrial Park in Sarawak, Malaysia. Tokuyama Malaysia took a giant step by being the first foreign investor in SCORE with polycrystalline silicon production factories that will manufacture the main component for solar cells that produce clean sustainable energy.  The first plant is already completed and will start production in the middle of 2013. Inside Investor asked President Akira Sanuki about the progress of the company’s second plant in Sarawak and the challenges being faced.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tokuyama Malaysia President Akira Sanuki
Akira Sanuki, President Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn.Bhd.

Tokuyama Corporation, the Japanese high-technology firm, has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., which is setting up two production plants located in the Samalaju Industrial Park in Sarawak, Malaysia. Tokuyama Malaysia took a giant step by being the first foreign investor in SCORE with polycrystalline silicon production factories that will manufacture the main component for solar cells that produce clean sustainable energy.  The first plant is already completed and will start production in the middle of 2013. Inside Investor asked President Akira Sanuki about the progress of the company’s second plant in Sarawak and the challenges being faced.

Q: What is the construction progress of the second Tokuyama Malaysia plant?

A: More than half of the construction is done. As the process is complicated and takes more time than other factory facilities due to the nature and complexity of the chemicals and materials used here, we need a careful and thorough inspection process for each step. Parallel to construction, we are training our local operators for carrying out the work safely and efficiently.

Q: Have you seen any improvements in infrastructure to facilitate your activities? Are you still facing issues with regard to this?

A: The state government is very helpful and supportive. Our project success reflects on the entire project in SCORE. Therefore, we have strong trust and the government and Tokuyama support each other. Since we decided to set up our factories in Samalaju, we have had many discussions surrounding the various infrastructure issues with the state government, we advised them and they advised us. To be an industrial park operating on a global scale, crucial infrastructure has to be provided as soon as possible. However road access from Bintulu to Samalaju still remains an issue. The federal government has done some work, but 80 per cent of the road is still single-lane, and we worry this to cause a lot of issues, for example when the single lane road is being blocked by an accident. In that case, we cannot transport staff and materials and cannot ship out our products on the road. The problem exists not only for our company but for all companies here, including the government offices and everyone who works in Samalaju.

Q: Do you foresee any complications for 2013 – if so, of what nature?

A: Our project has been well executed so far and we have had a successful 2012. However, 2013 will be tougher for us. Since operations in the first plant is starting, we have to make sure that all facilities are working well as designed and that the shipment of our products is processed in a smooth and efficient way without issues, especially at the port in Bintulu. And we have to complete staff training to operate safely and with confidence.

Q: You export mainly back to Japan. Will Tokuyama also supply the Malaysian market or other customers?

A: There is the possibility for Malaysia to become a direct downstream candidate. I am expecting Malaysia to become one of the advanced countries for sustainable clean energy and solar energy business, thus there should be upcoming demand.

Q: What is the plan for Tokuyama over the next 18 months in terms of construction and further development?

A: We now have our first plant and are proceeding with construction of the second one, which we hope to get finished mechanical completion by 2014 and to be in full operation by 2015. If all goes as planned, we will reach a capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year upon completion.

Q: What is the ratio of local vs. expatriate employees among your staff? Where do you recruit human capital?          

A: Many of the employees are Sarawakians. However, we also have Japanese employees here at the moment to transfer the required technical skills. There are 400 Sarawakians and 100 Japanese right now at the first plant, but most of the Japanese will go back once they have passed on their technical knowledge. We see the next step is to train them into managerial level staff.

Q: What is the future of the Samalaju industrial park, in your view?

A: I want companies like Tokuyama, Press Metal, Pertama and OM Holdings to start operations and become a real industrial park busy with lots of different activities so there is a variety of combination work across the industries in the vicinity. Finally, there should also be a sense of a township within Samalaju, including all the necessary shops, schools, services and amenities.

 

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