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Swiss firm Tornos gives Penang a cutting edge PDF Print E-mail

By Marina Emmanuel, Business Times

June 8, 2011

 

GEORGE TOWN: Penang's position as a preferred site for medical devices is poised to be enhanced, with efforts taken to boost the demand for the sector's skilled workers.

The Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) has joined hands with Swiss machine tool maker Tornos SA to provide the centre's students with the latest state-of-the-art technology for computer numeric control (CNC) machining courses.

PSDC chief executive officer Datuk Boonler Somchit said one unit of the Swiss or sliding headstock type CNC auto lathe machine will be loaned to the centre by Tornos for two years, from Septembert this year till September 2013.

(A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation)

"We would like to add another four of these high-end machines at PSDC and have applied to the federal government for funds under the 10th Malaysia Plan and hope to obtain capital grants to expand and focus on medical technology," he told Business Times in an interview.

The medical devices industry has been described by Boonler as the "saviour" for local small and medium-sized enterprises who are engaged in the machining business.

"These small machine shops used to thrive before, when they were supporting the semiconductor and automation industry, and we need to find ways for these businesses to prosper again and the medical devices sector can help these firms prosper, if we can provide investors with the right talent," he added.

He said once the Tornos machine is installed, around 10 PSDC trainers will undergo a "Train the Trainers" programme with Tornos experts from Switzerland.

Tornos has been selling machines for the medical devices industry to Asian countries, including Malaysia.

In providing the required talent for the medical devices industry, Boonler said PSDC - which has been providing CNC machining courses since 1992 - produces 160 skilled machinists each year.

"Penang at any given time," he added, "has immediate vacancies for 500 machinists."

The state is home to big name medical device makers like B. Braun Melsulgen AG, Symetry Medical Inc and St Jude Medical Inc, and a host of local players like Vigilenze Medical Supplies Sdn Bhd.