IBM props manufacturing plant as bridge to China

update The island-state, with its geographical location and skilled talent, will help the company reach out to key markets such as China, says Big Blue.

update SINGAPORE--IBM's newly-expanded manufacturing facility will act as a bridge for the company to extend its reach to key markets within the region, say company officials Monday.

Barbara McLane, vice president of IBM's integrated supply chain (ISC), noted that while China is known as one of the world's manufacturing hubs, the company decided to base its manufacturing centre in Singapore due to the island-state's strategic geographical location, as well as its skilled pool of talent.

The facility was first established in 2002 but was recently expanded, doubling its floor space to 120,000 square feet, according to IBM. While company officials refused to reveal details, they did say that investments in the recent expansion were worth "several millions of (Singapore) dollars" and staff force for the plant is expected to reach 700 by the end of this year.

"Singapore plays a complementary role to China, the manufacturing bridge to the world, as it is located geographically at the crossroads between the developed countries such as United States and Europe, and the developing world of Southeast Asia, South Asia and Greater China," explained McLane.

"Singapore has entrepreneurial skill sets that China can leverage on," she added. "We want to work Singapore and China as a team--a team that develops globally."

The manufacturing centre is part of IBM's ISC division, which was formed in 2002 when IBM divested its hard disk drive manufacturing operations. In addition to being IBM's only manufacturing location for its Total Storage DS6000 product and Linear Tape Open drives worldwide, the facility also functions as a development center for its supply chain management (SCM) offerings.

Said Sal Calta, worldwide vice president with IBM's ISC: "It is important that manufacturing remains the core component of SCM. However, SCM should also be expanded to include services delivery, and move from being viewed as a 'back-room' operation into an end-to-end execution."