Despite growth, Thailand’s HDD industry faces uncertain future

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Thailand’s hard disk drive export industry could be set for an uncertain future, according to a report by Reuters.

This is despite data set to be released later today which is expected to show Thailand’s exports of HDDs to be in double digit growth, a 45 per cent increase during the first two months of the year.

However, while the manufacturing and exports of HDDs remains one of the few plus points in Thailand’s economy, there is concern among manufacturers about its long term future.

Cheap competition from China along with a global shift in demand from traditional hard disk drives to newer technology such as flash drives has left business leaders in Thailand worried that neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, which is manufacturing more advanced solid state drives (SSDs) and flash memory chips, could take business away from Thailand.

“It’s worrying that others are shifting to more advanced technology and letting us make HDDs,” Nopporn Thepsithar, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, told Reuters.

“PCs will be gone in the future, so hard drives will be a short-term thing. With disruptive technologies, I see no place for HDDs”, he added.

Thailand’s HDD industry has remained strong despite an uncertain political situation and a decline in electronic exports globally.

However, the industry not only in Thailand but globally looks set to face challenging times.

Research firm Gartner recently released figures which said the global HDD industry is indecline having shrunk by 3 percent in 2016.

Earlier this month, shares of Seagate Technology and Western Digital, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of HDDs and both of which have large production plants in Thailand, declined by 18 and 7 percent respectively with the fall in global PC sales cited as the reason for the share slump.

In 2015, Seagate announced it would be investing over 15 billion baht in order to increase capacity of its largest HDDs production plant in Korat, where it employs more than 12,000 people and where production has continued to grow.

This is despite the devastating floods of 2011 which halted large sections of HDD production in Thailand and resulted in a global shortage of hard disk drives after rival Western Digital was forced to suspend operations after its facilities in Ayutthaya were flooded.

Source: Reuters

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