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TBS opens sole technology center and R&D center

Released at: 09:44, 15/06/2018 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

TBS opens sole technology center and R&D center

Photo: TBS

Shoe sole manufacturer expands production site in Binh Duong province in bid to tackle low localization rate in domestic footwear industry.

by My Van

The TBS Group officially opened the TBS Sole Technology Center and the R&D Center for Sole Manufacturing on May 11 at the Song Than 3 Industrial Zone in southern Binh Duong province.

The two centers will focus on researching, developing, and supplying soles for TBS’s shoe manufacturing as well as researching and supplying compound materials for the sole manufacturing industry in general, from combining many raw materials to manufacturing semi-finished products used for compressed soles or EVA phylon.

There is potential in Vietnam’s sole manufacturing industry, though most is currently produced by foreign enterprises.

Despite Vietnam being in the Top 3 biggest manufacturers of footwear and second in terms of exports, value added remains modest as the localization rate for raw materials and auxiliary materials is only some 50 per cent. Many materials require high technology, including soles, which remains an issue, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

With an attitude that “If the world can do it, we can certainly do it,” Mr. Nguyen Duc Thuan, Chairman of the TBS Group, has set a target of mastering technology in the fashion industry.

Focusing on the development of shoe sole technology is therefore a great strategy for TBS to fully master technology in the footwear industry.

According to figures from the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association, a pair of soles represents 15-25 per cent of the value of sports shoes, depending on the type of technology used, confirming just how important technology is in creating added value.

With a sole factory built in 2002, TBS has mastered the technology of producing rubber soles and EVA phylon. With the addition of the two new centers, TBS will focus on the research, development and supply of a new line of sports shoes with IP Technology (Injection Phylon - technology injecting materials directly into the mold) and new compound materials for soles, to meet demand and stay abreast of development trends in the domestic and foreign footwear industries, especially in regard to soles for sports shoes.

On a total area of 113,890 sq m and with advanced equipment and technology, the TBS Sole Technology Center is capable of supplying 32 million pairs of finished products, including EVA phylon, liner, cup insoles, and IP products, and about 20 million products from other materials, including compounds, which will contribute some 20 per cent of the TBS Group’s sales.

In order to meet goals, being equipped with advanced technology and equipment is not enough. Over a period of many years, the TBS Group has built up a team of technicians who are knowledgeable about sole production technology but who are nonetheless few in number compared to the huge demand for the production of about 700 million pairs of sport shoes each year in Vietnam. This is a very specific industry where most foreign-owned factories, including joint ventures, do not intend to transfer technology to local factories.

The team of technicians is sent by the TBS Group to provide training and attend many international programs on shoe sole technology. Though open since 2002, the first TBS sole factory in 2002 is still relatively young compared to major large corporations such as Pou Chen and Taekwang, Hwasueng, and Feng Hand, which have been in the business for more than 50 years. 

There are many immediate and long-term challenges, including rapid changes in technology that shorten product lifecycles, the expectation that the rapid development of Industry 4.0 technology will lower production costs and therefore retail prices, the increasing demand from import markets that may be difficult to meet, and, especially, environmental protection standards, which will easily impact on any company investing in technology without a long-term vision.

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