Along with Meyer Burger announcing the decision to close down its Thun production (pictured), the management also shared it will carry out reorganization of its Dutch subsidiary in Eindhoven/Netherlands which deals in ink jet printing solutions and thin-film encapsulation. Instead, the PV wafer-to-module equipment market leader will produce closer to its customer in China. (Photo Credit: Meyer Burger Technology AG)
- Meyer Burger will be closing down its Thun located facility by the end of 2018
- It is shifting production of diamond saw wires to China by 2018 to be able to reduce cost structures, delivery time and move closer to customers
- Busbar and JT laminator technology is also being shut down as part of the reorganization efforts
- Strategic alternatives are being evaluated for solar systems with its BIPV module technology that mainly cater to the Swiss market
- Up to 180 employees will be affected by the move in manufacturing, logistics, purchasing and production planning
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Swiss-based PV equipment maker Meyer Burger has announced that it plans to close down production at its facility in Thun by the end of 2018 as it strives to move closer to its customers. A global market leader for several PV wafer to module manufacturing tools, will move its production of diamond wire saws within a year to China where around 85% of solar wafers are being manufactured. The step is aimed at resulting in more ‘flexible cost structures, reduce delivery time and costs, and further increase customer proximity’.
For modules, it will focus on establishing SmartWire Connection Technology (SWCT) as an industrial standard, a next generation interconnection cell technology in module manufacturing (see TaiyangNews Market Survey on Cell Interconnection Equipment 2017). It said that its “proprietary busbar technology and JT laminator technology will be discontinued”.
Meyer Burger is evaluating strategic alternatives for its solar systems technology, the so-called MegaSlate panels for building-integration that have their main market within Switzerland.
These steps are part of the cost efficiency program it has launched to ‘optimize manufacturing costs and further concentrate its product portfolio’.
At the Thun facility in Switzerland, Meyer Burger manufactures equipment used in wafer and module processes and building integrated PV applications. The MegaSlate panel production in Thun will also end during 2018, it said. This is going to affect up to 180 positions mainly in manufacturing, logistics, purchasing and production planning over the next 15 months.
Explaining the rationale behind closing down Thun factory, the management pointed out underutilized existing manufacturing capacities. Moving to China will reduce excess capacity and cost. The existing Thun site will be used for global sales and marketing, services, research and development and headquarter activities.
“The decisions to close down production in Thun in 2018 and to reorganise certain parts of our product portfolio were difficult to take. Especially since it also affects many long-term employees of Meyer Burger. But this transformation and reorganisation has become unavoidable and necessary to improve the Group’s operating efficiency and to secure the future of Meyer Burger. We will ensure that the personnel measures are carried out in a fair, respectful and socially responsible way,” said CEO Hans Brändle.
The management also plans to carry out reorganization of its Dutch subsidiary in Eindhoven/Netherlands with business activities in ink jet printing solutions and thin-film encapsulation. It will affect 75 employees.
Product transfer and personnel costs are expected to result in one-off cash-related extraordinary expenses of about CHF 10 million ($10.01 million), half of which will reflect in 2017 and the remaining half in 2018. One-off non-cash related extraordinary charge of about CHF 40 million ($40.02 million) will be a result of a write-off of worldwide inventory, impairment on the building in Thun and impairment of intangible assets to be recorded in 2017.
In 2016, Meyer Burger had a good year improving its net sales by 40% to a total of CHF 453.1 million ($456.1 million) (see Meyer Burger 2016 Sales Rise 40%). It has been targeting similar level of net sales for the current year as well. It expects to achieve net sales in the range of CHF 440 to CHF 460 million ($440.3 to $460.3 million). EBITDA has been adjusted to a range of CHF 5 to CHF 15 million ($5 to $15.0 million).
Once the transformation program is executed, Meyer Burger hopes to have a positive EBITDA impact of about CHF 10 million ($10 million) on an annual basis, in 2019.
In recent months Meyer Burger has been securing some big orders for its equipment, mainly from PV manufacturers in Asia (see Meyer Burger Lands Another PERC Contract). The company’s deposition equipment for cell passivation of PERC technology and diamond wire saws are currently in high demand. Recently, it also won an order from Italian utility ENEL for a turnkey heterojunction cell line.