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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

ViTrox Matter..

to undertake RM45m expansion drive


ViTrox Corp Bhd is embarking on a RM45mil research and development (R&D) expansion programme next year that will re-position the group as a high-tech inspection equipment manufacturer of advanced X-ray inspection (AXI) and optical inspection (AOI) in 2012.

“The project is partially financed by a RM7.1mil Strategic Thrust Areas in Research Fund from the Multimedia Development Corp and a matching R&D grant from the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority.

“ViTrox will create at least five patents for the next generation of AXI and AOI equipment with the fundings. The remaining expenditure would be funded internally,” group managing director Chu Jenn Weng told StarBizWeek.

He said the expansion programme would enable ViTrox to further carry out R&D activities into developing the next generation of advanced X-ray and optical inspection equipment which were capable of checking solder joint defects for printed circuit board (PCB) components such as motherboards at sub-micron level, with higher speed and greater accuracy, from a three-dimensional perspective.

“The expansion programme involves establishing a RM20mil R&D facility with a built-up area of 120,000 sq ft next to the present 30,000 sq ft plant,” Chu said.

“This new facility should be ready in the second half of 2011. With the expansion, we are going to hire at least 100 engineers in the next two years, primarily to support the R&D and business development activities.”

He said the R&D expansion programme would also involve collaboration with professors and post-graduates from local universities in the area of research and development of image processing algorithms and optical technologies for the AOI/AXI.

“Through this expansion programme, ViTrox would be able to increase the number of post-graduate employees in its R&D workforce.”

ViTrox expects to commercialise the production of this new range of advanced X-ray and optical inspection equipment in 2012.

“The R&D expansion programme is in line with the projection on the global spending for PCB product-inspection equipment. We aim to capture a conservative 5% of the AOI and AXI global market shares by 2012,” he added.

The worldwide spending for AOI & AXI equipment is expected to grow from US$1.2bil in 2010 to US$1.34bil in 2011 and US$1.4bil in 2012, according to the recent Global Industry Analysts research report.

“This year, the advanced optical inspection equipment for the PCB industry is expected to generate between 40% and 50% of the group’s revenue, compared with less than 10% last year,” Chu said.

On the outlook of the business for the fourth quarter, he said a slowdown in orders was expected.

Listed on the main board, ViTrox achieved a record pre-tax profit of RM14.6mil on revenue of RM39.1mil in the first half ended June 30 compared with a pre-tax loss of RM900,000 on revenue of RM6.1mil in the previous corresponding period.

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