Hon Hai Precision Industry is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer. Last week, the company announced plans to build a $10 billion LCD panel plant in Wisconsin. Hon Hai acquired Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp last year, and plans to manufacture Sharp LCDs in Wisconsin. The Sharp brand can be found in big box discount stores like Walmart and Best Buy. Let’s review the story of Sharp, and how they became part of the Hon Hai group.
Sharp went through a tough financial crunch a few years ago, and was acquired by Hon Hai, the largest EMS company in Taiwan during 2016. This was the first major Japanese electronics firm to be acquired by a foreign company. A change in management at Sharp came a day after the acquisition was complete, along with new operation plans to manufacturer LCD panels in the U.S. and China. A small caveat to this: The brand names “Sharp” and “Aquos” in the U.S. market belong to a Chinese electronics company. All electronic products with the brand name Sharp that are sold in the U.S. are manufactured and supplied by a Chinese company. There are a few legalities with the marketing of Sharp products in the U.S., so suffice it to say, I can see why Hon Hai is considering new brand names for products sold in the U.S. market.
There was a similar story with another major Japanese electronics company. Sanyo suffered through a long business slump after 2008, and was sold to electronics giant Panasonic. Panasonic has consolidated all Sanyo’s facilities and cut off the non-profitable businesses. Now there is no business with the brand name Sanyo in Japan. However, Panasonic sold the brand name of “Sanyo” to another Chinese company. One of my business associates told me that the cost of the brand name was less than USD$20 million. There is a broad range of electronic and electric products with the Sanyo brand in the American market. I check out labels on the products or packages other than “Sanyo.” From time to time I check out labels on electronic products to find any information about the manufacturer’s name or location. One particular product read “50 years in the U.S.” This is not a lie, but…
A few other things I discovered from viewing manufacturing tags on electronic products in America: Vizio and Hamilton Beach are considered American brands designed by American companies, but they are manufactured in other countries. Westinghouse and RCA are no longer as the American companies, but their names are affixed to LCD TVs and audio products. They are not produced in the U.S., and there was nothing on the box to indicate the manufacturer’s name of country location.
Sharp was reborn as a subsidiary company of Hon Hai Precision Industry. Now, the brand has to create itself as an American-made product and build some equity.
Trump was hoping to attract foreign manufacturing companies to open plants in the U.S. and produce products. However, the supply chain for consumer electronics is very complicated. Very few products are all processed in the U.S. It’s tough to distinguish who is the owner of the product, what brand names are affiliated with them, or who the designers, assemblers or owners of the companies are. Time will tell if the U.S. can become a heavyweight in the manufacturing of electronic products.
Headlines of the week
1. Toshiba (Major electric & electronics company in Japan) 7/13
Has opened a technical service center in Fuchu Plant for the hydrogen energy generation system “H2One” designed for the large-scale fuel cells.
2. Mitsui Metal Mining (Major copper foil supplier in Japan) 7/13
Will increase the manufacturing capacity of electrically deposited copper foil 20% in Malaysia plant to catch up the growing demand of flexible circuits.
3. Japan Probe (Device manufacturer in Japan) 7/14
Has developed a special ultrasound sensor module for the real time 3D imaging with 1024 vibration elements ordered on spherical substrates.
4. Kansai Electric Power (Japan) 7/14
Has been considering a new managing method of the electric power frequencies utilizing home use secondary batteries.
5. RIKEN (Major R&D organization in Japan) 7/18
Is successful with the depth analysis of the inert layer of the Spintronics materials using soft X-ray.
6. Kyoto University (Japan) 7/20
Has co-developed a new chemical synthetic process to generate functional compounds for the organic electronics. Long organic molecules are bent on the surface of metallic catalyst utilizing distortion energy of the molecules.
7. Rohm (Major electronic device manufacture in Japan) 7/21
Has developed the world smallest double-color chip LED “SML-D22MUW” for the display panels of the electronic equipment. Size: 1.6 x 0.8 mm.
8. Next Energy (Power supply company in Japan) 7/22
Will roll out a new lithium ion secondary battery module “NX3098” with large capacity (9.8kWh) for power outage of the offices.
9. TDK (Major electronic device supplier in Japan) 7/24
Has commercialized an EMC filter “RSEV Series” for power supply modules. The new device increases the assembling productivity.
10. JCU (Specialty chemical supplier for electronics in Japan) 7/24
Has developed a new sputtering process to generate thin microwave permeable layers built on organic coating for the automobile radar systems.
11. JAE (Major connector manufacturer in Japan) 7/24
Has commercialized a new 3in2 type connector “ST19 Series” for SIM card and SD card with push-ejection mechanism for mobile devices.
12. Murata (Major electronic device supplier in Japan) 7/25
Has developed a new heat resistant film capacitor series “FH Series” for automobile applications. Operating Temp.: 125°C. 10~20 micro Farads.
13. Tohoku University (Japan) 7/25
Has co-developed a new catalyst with ordered configurations on carbon frame structures as the alternative material of platinum catalyst for fuel cell devices.
14. AIST (Major R&D Organization in Japan) 7/25
Has developed a recovery process of functional materials such as catalyst carriers from slags of the burnable wastes.
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