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Napier PDL Electronics Plant To Close

Napier PDL Electronics Plant To Close

Schneider Toshiba Inverter has announced the decision to close its Napier-based PDL Electronics manufacturing plant following consultation with staff.

"Higher shipping costs and the development of new-generation variable speed drives were the deciding factors," says Jacky Pillais, President of PDL Electronics Ltd.

"The existing PDL Electronics variable-speed drives are reaching the end of their viable product life and are due to be phased out by the end of the year." Schneider Toshiba Inverter, PDL Electronics¹ parent company, recently launched the ATV71/61 product ranges, which have superior features and fully substitute the variable speed drives being made by PDL Electronics.

Elie Belbel, Chairman of Schneider Toshiba Inverter, says the Napier plant is not near the main markets in North America, Asia and Europe and can no longer compete economically.

"This is a strategic decision based on the comparative advantages of the various Schneider Toshiba Inverter plants," says Elie Belbel.

Jacky Pillais says PDL Electronics is committed to assisting its employees as much as possible throughout this process.

"I realise this is a stressful time for staff and we are working closely with them to help as many as possible find new jobs. We hope to retain around 20 staff within the Schneider Group, either in New Zealand or further a field."

Worldwide support with parts, service and technical support will continue from Napier and through the Schneider network. The company will honour its existing warranties and all drives made in Napier will continue to be supported by parts and service.

Worldwide applications support will continue to be provided by PDL Electronics staff through Schneider Electric New Zealand, from June this year.

"We began consultation with our staff earlier this month, and have proposed a process for closing the plant. The plant will be closed in three phases, with the final exit of factory expected to be completed by March 2007." says Jacky Pillais.

The first phase (June-July) will be to disband the PDL Electronics Research and Development team of 16 people and reduce some manufacturing capacity (around another 15 people). Five applications engineers, who customise installed drives, will be transferred to Schneider Electric New Zealand.

The second phase (September-December) will be to wind down manufacturing in line with sales, which will affect around 30 people. Manufacturing of the PDL Electronics variable-speed drives will cease by the end of the year.

The final phase (to March 2007) will be to close the business (around nine people).

Schneider Electric will retain ten people at the Napier site working on international applications engineering, parts and service support alongside the existing New Zealand Service Team.

The closure does not affect PDL brand electrical switchgear and wiring accessories produced in Christchurch

For further information regarding Schneider Toshiba Inverter or PDL

Background:

About PDL Electronics:

- PDL Electronics Ltd is a subsidiary of Schneider Toshiba Inverter (STI)

- Schneider Electric acquired PDL Electronics in 2001 when it bought the PDL Group. Schneider Electric transferred ownership to STI in 2004

- PDL Electronics has operated a manufacturing plant in Napier since 1973

- PDL Electronics employs 92 people in Napier

- Around 18 of those staff are involved in research and development

- PDL Electronics has specialised in making AC variable-speed motor drives for industrial and commercial use

- PDL Electronics has customers in New Zealand, Australia, North and South America, Europe and Asia

About Schneider Toshiba Inverter [STI]:

- Schneider Toshiba Inverter is a joint venture between Schneider Electric and Toshiba, which have been working together since 1988

- STI is the worldwide leader in AC variable speed drives and soft starters and is at the forefront of the technology.

- STI has has a worldwide market share of 16% (in the variable speed drive market)

- STI has operations in USA, France, Austria, Japan, China and New Zealand

About Schneider Electric New Zealand:

- A market leader in automation and electricity management.

- Our lineup, comprises global brands (Merlin Gerin, Square D and Telemecanique), market-leading local brands (PDL)

- Schneider Electric employs 320 people in New Zealand

- Find out more about Schneider Electric in New Zealand at http://www.schneider-electric.co.nz

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