Smartphones, tablets, notebooks, televisions, OLED applications or portable minicomputers, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers: Almost all major electronics manufacturers are based in China. Due to the great demand for high-tech adhesive solutions, at the beginning of April, tesa celebrated the expansion of its plant in Suzhou, China. The center piece of the new building with a total area of 15,000 square meters – and an investment of 32 million Euro – is one of the world's most modern clean room units for the production of precision adhesive tapes. With a population of almost 11 million, Suzhou lies around 100 kilometers northwest of Shanghai.
Large investments in the Asian market
"The plant expansion in China is an important element in order to increase our 'footprint' in Asia and to strengthen our market position in Greater China and the surrounding countries, such as Korea and Vietnam," explains Dr. Norman Goldberg, CEO of tesa SE. "With our innovative adhesive tapes, we can play a decisive role in shaping the further development of products and manufacturing processes in many industries," says Goldberg. The construction of another large plant in Vietnam – with an investment of 55 million Euro –, where the company will produce adhesive tapes for the Asian market starting from 2023, is already in preparation. tesa generates more than 30% of its sales in Asia.
"Despite the difficult conditions during the Corona pandemic, our 50-strong international project team successfully managed the completion of the new production facility in China," says Frank Kolmorgen, President and Regional Manager of tesa Greater China, on the occasion of the opening ceremony. The international adhesive tape manufacturer decided to significantly expand the plant's capacities and buildings early on – when it was already foreseeable that due to the high demand, the existing production site in the industrial park of the Suzhou metropolis would reach its limits by 2025 at the latest.
Adhesive tapes thinner than a single hair – The clean room unit in Suzhou
In Suzhou, China, tesa successfully relies on cutting-edge technology. The precision adhesive tapes that will be manufactured in clean room conditions – where the room air is 100 times cleaner than on a mountain peak – include so-called optically clear adhesives (OCA). These highly transparent, wafer-thin foils are used, among other things, for bonding displays. So far, such products for the electronics and automotive industries were manufactured in the tesa plant in Hamburg-Hausbruch, which has had a clean room unit since 2009.
Closer to markets and customers
"In China, the future is created every day," says Frank Kolmorgen. "The quantitative and qualitative increase in our capacities allows us to react even faster to the elevated local customer demand and to sustainably increase our market share." Suthesh Kumar, head of the tesa plant in Suzhou, adds: "Thus, we strengthen our position not only as an innovative supplier, but also as an attractive employer. It's an exciting task for the employees to produce precision adhesive tapes using one of the most modern systems in the world." The close and trusting cooperation with key customers from the electronics and automotive industries is an important competitive factor for tesa. "Here, on site, we can react quickly to the specific requirements of the engineers and bring new products to the market," says Frank Kolmorgen. The dynamism is particularly elevated in the consumer electronics segment. For example, often several generations of smartphones are launched on the market every year, with changes in functionality and designs. A smartphone may contain up to 70 different tesa tapes. More than 300 people currently work at the tesa site in Suzhou. Another 80 jobs will be created in the medium term. More than 750 employees work for tesa throughout the region Greater China – in addition to the plant, there are also central functions in Shanghai as well as eleven sales offices.
Further expansion of Product & Technology Development
In a second construction phase, by the end of 2021, additional offices and laboratories for product and technology development will be created on the plant premises and the Application Solution Center will be expanded. That's where so-called Customer Touch Points are located: Selected industrial customers have the opportunity to actively work on site on developments that are custom-made for them.
Stefan Schmidt, tesa Executive Vice President tesa Supply Network responsible for the international network of all tesa production sites, says: "One of our goals is to produce in the region for the region in order to keep delivery times, transport routes and costs as well as CO2 pollution caused by transport routes as low as possible." The plant expansion is an important milestone in order to continue the success story of the company. The new production capacities in China will also benefit the other large tesa plants: "There, too, we sometimes reach our limits due to the positive growth of tesa. We will use the capacities we've now gained to manufacture new adhesive tape products for other growth markets," says Schmidt.