Most people associate Walsin Lihwa with cables and power wires, but it’s actually a large-scale specialty steel manufacturer as well. Walsin Lihwa manufactures and sells stainless steel billets (ingots), hot-rolled coils, cold-rolled coils, straight bars and pipes worldwide. It operates Taichung and Tainan-Yanshui plants in Taiwan and Yantai, Janzhoh, and Baihe plants in China, as well as a plant in Malaysia. Annual production has grown from 140,000 tons in 1999 to 500,000 tons in 2015. The company offers a full range of stainless steel products, from bars, plates, and sheets to wire. In 1990 Walsin Lihwa became the first Taiwan manufacturer of steel bar products. Today it is Taiwan's No.1 and the world's No.3 producer of steel bars by volume. The company has the shortest history of any top-tier player in the global steel foundry business offering a full range of steel products, and has a high price-performance ratio.
When the Tainan-Yanshui plant was being constructed, Walsin Lihwa had already set its sights on an ambitious goal of becoming a world-class supplier of professional steel products. As its products would be used in such items as boilers and automobiles, and in the petrochemical engineering, shipbuilding, nuclear power plants, and other industries, with special environments and applications, a range of different forms of professional certification were necessary. “If you want to get certified across the board, you need to find someone who is the best in every field,” says Tain-Rong Chen, Senior General Manager. “They must be able to offer the most reliable and rigorous services.” Since the target of becoming a world-class foundry had already been set, Chen believed that the ideal partner must be professional, careful for detailed procedures, well-organized, and be highly committed. After considering all of the options, Chen says, with a calm look of resolution in his eyes, “We felt that the German system was the one we wanted.” The first certificate was issued 22 years ago. “From ISO 9001 to PED, we have asked TÜV Rheinland to handle certification at every stage of our journey.”
Over time, joint projects between the two companies have expanded from quality management systems all the way to hazardous substances inspections for products, including ISO 9002, the EU Pressure Equipment Directive (PED), German AD2000 Pressure Vessel Code, American Petroleum Institute (API) certification, ASME management system, as well as RoHS and SVHC testing. The Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) service has left a particularly strong impression on Chen.
Health and safety are usually top priorities for products intended for EU markets. Establishing levels for over one hundred hazardous substances in a product is no easy task, and achieving certification is an even tougher challenge. From Chen’s years of experience in China, this particular EU directive keeps many competitors out of EU markets. Here the quality of service provided by TÜV Rheinland has helped Walsin Lihwa widen its lead over competitors. From the introduction of the ASME system to the successful implementation of the comprehensive quality management system, TÜV Rheinland's systematic approach has helped Walsin Lihwa achieve certification for the first time. The ISO 9001: 2015 process was also completed ahead of schedule -- certification had been planned for October 2017, but this was completed in October 2016, a full year ahead of schedule.
Chen believes that TÜV Rheinland and Walsin Lihwa’s Yanshui foundry have resulted in a mixture of family, friends, and strategic partners since they first started working together in 1994. Both have benefited from this mutual close support and partnership. Walsin Lihwa hopes that TÜV Rheinland can continue to uphold its rigorous corporate culture, and not be affected by the market trend toward price bargaining. “Our plant has been greatly influenced by TÜV Rheinland over the last two-plus decades. Their rigorous approach has had a great effect on us. I think this is something that cannot be ignored.”
A successful partnership often results in the higher productivity and added value that ensures a company’s long-term competitive advantage. This has been amply proved over the past 22 years with this partnership. Walsin Lihwa believes that the great value provided by TÜV Rheinland comes from the varied professional and technical backgrounds of its team members, which include quality management systems, product certification, and materials testing. Familiarity with EU’s regional product standards and regulations allows Walsin Lihwa to keep track of regulatory changes and stay ahead of market trends.
Chen praises TÜV Rheinland's service quality, professionalism, and speed. The long-running partnership means that both sides are now like old friends. Ever since the construction of the plant, “If we run into any problems, we ask TÜV Rheinland first,” he says. “A professional certification organization, rigorous & impartial testing services, and a trustworthy partner” provides a fitting summary of their longstanding friendship.
To view Walsin Lihwa's Testimony, click here.