Plant LocationsGumi, Kyungsang-Bukdo, South Korea
ISO StatusISO-9001: 1999; ISO-14001 (environmental certification): 1999; ISO-18001 (operational certification): 1993
Key PersonnelY.K. Lee, president and CEO; Y.K. Kim, senior vice president; Shigeto Fukuda, senior vice president; W.C. Hwang, director
ProcessesSpunbond PP (SS, SMS, SMMS), PET
Brand NamesJesbon (PP), Techbon (PET), Airbon (protective apparel)
Major MarketsHygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, PP/PE bicomponents, geotextiles
Toray Saehan Inc. is a joint venture company between Japan’s Toray Industries and Korea’s Saehan. With company-wide sales hitting the $653 million mark in 2005, TSI’s nonwoven sales totaled $99 million or 15% of the company’s total turnover last year, representing 24% growth. Despite this dramatic increase in sales in 2005, TSI’s earnings did not meet company expectations due to the sharp rise in polypropylene resin prices. “Our newly installed polypropylene spunbond production line, which came online at the end of 2003, contributed to much of the increase in sales turnover in 2005,” offered company spokesperson H.B. Lee. “Rising oil prices are continuing to negatively impact producers of polypropylene-based nonwovens this year.”
TSI’s geographic sales regions span the globe, with 47% of business generated in Korea, 21% coming from Japan and other markets representing 32%. Export markets continue to make up just more than half (53%) of TSI’s total sales volume. Major export regions include Japan, China, Taiwan and Asean countries. In Japan, TSI now holds a 15-20% marketshare in the hygiene market, where it supplies quality-oriented services. “Our fast growth in Asia comes from constant quality control, flexible R&D and aggressive marketing forces,” said Mr. Lee.
Outside of Korea, TSI’s parent company Toray Industries Inc. operates one spunbond polyester line in Japan with an annual capacity of 4000 tons. The line primarily targets geotextile and industrial sectors. (Toray Japan’s sales are broken out of TSI’s annual nonwovens sales results and are therefore not included in its Top Company sales figure.)
In its Korean domestic market, TSI holds a 40% marketshare in the hygiene sector and supplies the major market players. TSI has also attained about two-thirds of the marketshare in Korea for agricultural products and serves approximately 40% of the Korean industrial composites market.
TSI operates five polypropylene spunbond lines and one polyester spunbond line. According to the company, TSI boasts the largest single plant capacity in Asia with an annual production rate of 54,000 tons on one location. Through state-of-the-art SSMMS and bicomponent technology, TSI fabricates top quality spunbond products including lighter weight multilayered nonwovens featuring SMS, SSMMS and bicomponent layers. All of TSI’s spunbond facilities house Reifenhauser machines with S, SS, SMS and SSMMS capabilities. Additionally, TSI has been successfully producing PP/PE bicomponent products on a PP-5 machine since 2003.
In response to (current and projected) rapid growth in the Chinese hygiene market, TSI has completed a feasibility study for investing in a new production facility in China.
“As living standards improve, the marketshare of nonwovens is increasing in areas such as hygiene, medical, household, clothing and shoes. Since China has substantial potential growth in disposable markets, we are going to begin production in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China in late 2007,” explained Mr. Lee. “We currently provide quality goods to most of the major hygiene producers in China. As we cross the threshold into the Chinese market, we will play a leading role in the growth of the Chinese nonwovens industry.”
Outside of hygiene, another key end use market is medical. “We are developing and widening categories step by step for medical markets,” offered Mr. Lee. “Because Asia’s consumption of disposable nonwoven fabrics is low in comparison with developed countries, we can grow faster than other areas.”
In agricultural applications, spunbond uses are becoming more diverse as farming technologies evolve. “As a supplier of quality agricultural materials, TSI helps farmers increase crop yields and boost productivity. We provide fabrics for curtains, thermal covers, rice seedbed and red pepper mulching, tunnel mulching and alpine vegetable mulching,” said Mr. Lee.
TSI’s spunbond fabrics have also recently found varied uses in commodity-type applications. Toray Saehan’s major polypropylene spunbond products include meltblown spunbond, SMS, SMMS, SSMMS as well as polyester spunbond including embossed and needlepunched spunbond.