Page 40

Rubber Journal Asia Gloves

Malaysia’s glove sector: in a quiet revolution with automation/ Industry 4.0 The world’s largest producer of rubber

global output of rubber gloves. Yet, during the early months of 2017, events took a turn for the worse, and the sector found itself pressed with tight materials supply and price hikes of raw materials, such as nitrile (NBR) and natural rubber (NR). The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) confirmed that the prices of rubbers went up by more than 55%. Therefore, glove prices had to be adjusted to as much as 15% to buffer profit margins. Nevertheless, the sector has gradually recovered. In August, Malaysia’s exports picked up. During the period, the country also exported to more than 195 countries; and rubber gloves accounted for 73% to RM13.3 billion of the RM18.2 billion value of rubber product exports for the year, according to Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur. In the first half of 2017, export of rubber gloves jumped 25% to RM7.95 billion against RM5.28 billion over the same period last year, according to Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of the Plantation Industries and Commodities ministry, adding that the sector expected to clinch a fullyear export sales value of RM16 billion, or a 20% increase, compared to RM13.28 billion posted for the full year of 2016. In September, Malaysia reportedly exported RM19.1 billion of rubber during the first seven months of the year. Mah projected that rubber exports could potentially cross RM27 billion this year on account of a fireball global demand. On the other hand, this development urges for more efficient manufacturing and production process.

gloves is getting a hold of competition, wage hikes and volatile currency, with capacity expansions through automation and the

impending embrace of Industry 4.0, says Angelica Buan in this report.

A climate of challenge

L

ate last year, the Malaysian gloves industry forecast a bullish domestic and global market at the beginning of 2017, which it had anticipated would favour the local-based glove makers. Malaysia, the world’s fifth largest producer of natural rubber, accounts for about 60% of the

Glove makers pump more investments into factories and R&D alaysia’s leading glove makers have responded to the auspicious climate for the rubber gloves market by expanding capacities and facilities, as well as investing more into R&D. Shah Alam-headquartered Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer with a production capacity of nearly 52 billion gloves/ year from its 55 production lines and 32 factories, has targeted the opening of three factories in Klang by end of 2018, to serve an anticipated increase in global demand between 6% to 8% annually. The first facility (Factory 39) started operations in May with 4.4 billion gloves/year; while Factory 31 is starting in November with a capacity of 2.8 billion units/year; and Factory 32 will kick off in

M

Malaysia accounts for about 60% of the global output of rubber gloves

3 O c to b e r 2 017

www.rubberjournalasia.com

PRA October 2017 Issue