Source: Taiwantrade | Updated: 16 April 2015
In 1984, as the industry continued to make its fastener manufacturing more efficient, Taiwan became known around the world as the “Kingdom of Fasteners”.Today, in a saturated global market and faced with China’s rapid rise, Taiwanese fastener companies have begun developing value-added, innovative products targeting new customers and channels.
Over the course of 2013, the Taiwanese fastener industry - benefitting from a recovering global economy - has gained a 5.8 percent growth compared to 2012 and totaling 1.46 million tons in output. It represented an increase of 1.7 percent in sales that amounted to US$3.86 billion at a time when unit prices fell 3.89 percent to US$2.646 per kilogram. The fall in unit prices was mainly due to the sharp drop in international steel prices.
Currently the top buyer of Taiwanese fasteners is the United States who imports an average volume of 580,000 tons from Taiwan every year. The figure accounts for 39.56 percent of Taiwan’s fastener output. Following the United States is Germany with 130,000 tons (accounting for 8.84 percent), Japan with 77,000 tons (5.29 percent), the Netherlands with 76,000 tons (5.27 percent), and the U.K. with 55,000 tons (3.77 percent). Meanwhile, the unit price of exports to Japan were the highest at US$3.1 per kilogram. The exports to the other market fell between US$2.45 to US$2.69 per kilogram.
Today, Taiwan’s top fastener export items are self-tapping screws (averaging 150,000 tons exported annually, accounting for 10.54 percent of the total) and nuts (260,000 tons, 18.10 percent).
According to Dong-yih Lin, Director of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National University of Kaohsiung, the fastener industry of Taiwan had made great strides in the past 4 decades since its heyday.
Taiwanese fastener makers have always used low-carbon steel as the base material for their products. This is because low-carbon steel is relatively easy to refine and manipulate compared to alloys.
Having overcome technical obstacles such as impedance and other challenges, Taiwanese fastener makers today are capable of using compound alloys in their products, Lin said. With this capability, they have successfully branched out from their original low-carbon steel products to offer alloy fasteners such as anchors, rivet nuts, spring bolts and concrete screws for the carpentry and construction markets.
Meanwhile, other manufacturers have branched out from their original markets to offer products for the automobile, railways, electronic devices, and military sectors.
For example, Hwei Nen Industry Co. is a specialist in M5 to M16 fasteners with lengths between 10mm to 200mm. The company offers them in sizes including 4.6mm, 4.8mm, 8.8mm, 10.9mm and 12.9mm. The company also manufactures special A2 to A4 grade fasteners and bolts.
Chun Yu Group, established in the 1940s, has since expanded into numerous fastener fields, including aerospace, high speed rail, computers and household electronics.
Such advances have also broadened the scope and application of Taiwan’s fasteners to the green energy sector, such as in wind-power generators and its turbines, Lin said. In addition, the advances have spawned a local talent ecosystem to cater to the increased demand for personnel in trade and engineering.
In recent years, Taiwan’s local capabilities in ecommerce and cloud technology have further driven the fastener industry forward. For example, Taiwan’s largest supplier of metal materials, China Steel Corporation, has launched a cloud network to close the gap between the supply and demand ends of the industry.
With a healthy ecosystem of innovation and a strong technical base to sustain its future growth, the Taiwanese fastener industry will be able to scale new heights by attempting more intricate and precise applications and offering competitive, higher quality, and value-added products and services.