It was 10 years ago that Asia Dekor saw the market opportunities presented by the new wonder product, laminate flooring. It built its first factory to laminate bought-in HDF boards in the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in 1995, with a capacity of five million m2 of laminate flooring.
The company then went on to start up a second line in 2000 with twice the capacity of the first, giving Asia Dekor a total annual output of 15 million m2.
Both lines are equipped with Homag sawing and tongue-and-groove equipment and with Dieffenbacher short-cycle presses.
The brand name for Asia Dekor’s laminate flooring is Power Dekor and its symbol is an elephant. The company has advertised extensively in China to ensure that both name and symbol are well recognised by consumers as representing a high-quality, powerful product. Today, that brand name is also shared by another Chinese producer, Dare Global, in a joint venture.
The next logical step for Asia Dekor was to secure the supply of HDF to guarantee the future success of the company and that is exactly what it did.
On July 23, 2004, the first HDF panel rolled off the company’s production line in Heyuan, also in Guangdong province.
We visited the site of this factory in March 2004 while it was still in the final stages of construction and this seems to have become something of a habit between WBPI and this company, as you will see.
The Heyuan factory has a Dieffenbacher CPS continuous press with Andritz refiner and Vyncke energy plant and turns out at least 200,000m3 a year of HDF and MDF. The HDF is of course used for its own laminate flooring production, but also finds a market in gift box manufacture, which employs 2.7, 2.8 and 3.0mm board.
The latest project for this rapidly growing company is a continuous particleboard line currently under construction in Huizhou in Guangdong province. Cue for another WBPI visit, then.
Asia Dekor has purchased a large area of land outside the city beside the Dongjiang River to construct its new factory and at the time of our visit, the frame of the main production hall was under construction and the foundations for the Dieffenbacher CPS press and the two chippers were being laid. Production is to start at the end of this year.
The planned capacity of this line is the same as the company’s MDF line – 200,000m3 a year.
Perhaps this is one of the first of the many anticipated new mills for particleboard in China which have been talked about for some time; general manager of the Huizhou plant, Mr Zhang Jian Yan, seems confident of demand for the mill’s anticipated production.
“We are building particleboard now because it is more profitable in the Chinese market [than MDF] and is production that is missing from that market,he says. “There is currently very little production in China, it is nearly all produced on Chinesemade machines and the quality is poor. The particleboard price in China is also rising.”
The target market for Asia Dekor is the furniture manufacturing industry and that is developing rapidly in China.
“There is more furniture being exported from China and with the value of the euro rising daily against the Yuan, China cannot afford to import particleboard from Europe; and the price of the board in Europe is also rising,says Mr Zhang. “There are also more foreign-owned furniture factories in the country who want to buy their particleboard in China, while demand on the domestic market is increasing too.
“I have visited two US-owned furniture factories in Shanghai which only use real wood veneer and they want particleboard as the base panel. Every furniture factory that wants to export its production needs particleboard.Mr Zhang also suggested that there was an environmental angle to consider, since particleboard can be recycled.
That seems to answer the question “why now?The next question is “Why here?“The biggest furniture export region in China is in the south, with the main centres being in Guangdong province,says the general manager. “In 2003, more than RMB24bn (US$2.9bn) of furniture was exported from here.”
The three main furniture producing cities in the province are Shenzhen, Donguan and Guangzhou. “We are well-positioned to supply all three,says Mr Zhang confidently.
This also has some bearing on raw material. As Mr Zhang points out, furniture factories produce waste and this can be used as raw material for particleboard production.
However, that is for the future – maybe two or three years down the line. In the meantime, there is apparently no shortage of wood in Guangdong province, according to Mr Zhang who has worked extensively in the panel industry in China.
“We have carried out a market investigation and there are enough suppliers in this region and a lot of forest here, plus we have our own plantations and forestry company. We will plant 80,000mu this year ourselves  and the government is strongly supporting forestry in this country.”
The design and layout of the new particleboard line is the responsibility of German complete-line supplier Dieffenbacher. The front-end package has been sub-contracted to Pallmann of Germany, but using a locally made chipper.
Dieffenbacher is supplying forming, pressing, cooling, dryer, panel handling and glue preparation from its own resources. The energy plant will be from Vyncke of Belgium. Sawing is by Anthon of Germany and the factory aims to produce a full range of cut-to-size panels to customer order.
The area of the Huizhou site is around 218,000m2 in total and was mostly covered with lakes for fish farming before Asia Dekor arrived. Thus a lot of infilling has had to be done, shifting earth and stone from a hill on the other side of the main road which runs through the site.
Civil engineering works started on November 28, 2004 and most construction work was to finish around the end of June, ready for machinery to be installed in July.
Production will be mainly of thin board because there is very little currently available in China. Thus the main thickness will be 6mm for doorskins and packaging, but Asia Dekor will also produce 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24mm for furniture manufacturers.
“We will also have some downstream production here with melamine facing, but we have not made a final decision on that yet,said Mr Zhang. Asia Dekor owns another area of land adjacent to its temporary offices and will eventually build a short cycle press line factory there to supplement that which it already has in Shenzhen.
The river running beside the site will provide some transport of wood raw material, when the water level is high enough – generally in the typhoon season in the summer.
An area of the site is set aside for the Asia Dekor Institute for training staff from all the company’s factories, as well as customers and suppliers. The company does not  anticipate any problem in finding suitable staff to train. Another building will provide accommodation for the expected 290 workers.
Also planned is an office block to replace the temporary accommodation the company currently occupies.
Asia Dekor’s factory is only one part of a large industrial zone taking shape at Huizhou for furniture production and a meeting was to be held between the local government and the company, in May, to finalise plans for this development.