Disk-drive firm budgets $200m for robots
Western Digital in automation scheme
Hard-disk-drive giant Western Digital plans to spend US$200 million (Bt6 billion) to install an automation system at its Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya plants.
The California-based HDD manufacturer is a major employer in Thailand with a workforce of about 25,000 people, down from about 38,000 before the flood.
Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk said after meeting yesterday with Timothy Leyden, chief executive officer of Western Digital, that the company was confident in Thailand and would continue expanding its investment over the next two or three years.
Much of this investment would be on a robotic and automation system, which will allow the company to reduce human labour and serve the future trend when all electronic products will be on a smaller scale and require more precision in the production process.
"Mr Leyden came to meet me today to express his sincere thanks to the Thai government, which assisted local business entrepreneurs during the time of flooding in 2011, and allowed them to restore their plants very quickly," he said.
An Industry Ministry source said Western Digital had urged the government to help provide skilled workers who could use the high-technology automation system.
Local demand for HDDs is expected to increase by 3-4 per cent annually, he said.
About 53 investment projects worth Bt24.7 billion were submitted by US investors to the Board of Investment for privileges last year. This was up considerably from only 32 projects worth Bt7.3 billion in 2011.
The BOI targets investment from the US in many fields, including automobiles, electronic parts, chemical and medical products, biotechnology and software.