Tongfang Has High Hopes for Welsh Plant

We talked to Simon Lucas and Phil Jones, manufacturing director and managing director of Tongfang’s new TV assembly plant in Wales (Display Monitor Vol 21 Nos 3 & 30). Seiki TVs for the UK and mainland Europe are built here. The UK is the main market, but TVs have also been sold to France, Germany and Spain, among other markets. Tongfang is now talking to retailers across the UK to get these TVs in stock – a source told us that supermarkets and “the UK’s largest CE chain” (Dixons Retail) are in discussions with the firm.

The factory is operating at half capacity right now – about 10,000 units per month. However, the plan is to reach 100% utilisation (20,000 – 25,000 units monthly) by November. Around 90 people will be employed in the facility at this time.

24″ – 65″ TVs are produced at this time, with the ability to scale to 85″. However, these would be units for a very niche market in the UK, where rooms tend to be small. The most popular sizes, it should come as no surprise to hear, are 32″, 40″ and 42″. Some UltraHD sets are also being manufactured.

Next year, Tongfang will begin to produce UltraHD Seiki monitors from the plant, which use many of the same components as the TVs. 28″, 40″ and 55″ (the largest will support UltraHD at 60fps over HDMI) models will be produced. They will use third-party panels, but it is hoped that eventually Seiki/Tongfang’s Chinese facilities will be able to supply the factory.

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The announcement of the new UltraHD logo by Digital Europe (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 36) is of great interest to Seiki. Lucas and Jones said that the company will certainly aim for accreditation, although there is no timing to be announced right now.

When we saw Seiki’s UltraHD TVs at CES in January (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 3), they performed 1080p processing on the UltraHD signals, which would have to change for certification to be granted. Digital Europe has stated that TVs with the new logo must not apply a reduction in resolution during the processing stage. (TA)