Seagate and Western Digital expanding investments in Thailand

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American computer hard disk drive manufacturers Seagate Technologies and Western Digital are planning on expanding their already significant investments in Thailand following the closure of some of their facilities in other countries, boosting Thailand’s role as a global leader in the manufacture of hard disk drives.

“Western Digital aims to use Thailand as an HDD (hard disk drive) production base for data centers, which require higher production technology, compared with HDDs for companies or other electronic equipment,” said Ajarin Pattanapanchai, a deputy secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI).

Thailand’s importance in the manufacturing of hard disk drives was largely unnoticed outside the industry until late 2011 when massive flooding across many provinces because of a freak series of typhoons forced the shut down of several industrial estates where the drives were assembled. That led to a global shortage of hard disk drives that slowed down production and delivery of computers to buyers, and highlighted Thailand’s role in the global manufacturing and supply chain.

Some feared that hard disk drive manufacturers would abandon Thailand and relocate to countries less prone to natural disasters, but the government and the industrial estates took several measures to make the sites more secure and safe from flooding and other potential problems. The investments by Western Digital and Seagate are evidence that manufacturers have regained confidence in the Kingdom as a production center.

Western Digital plans to expand its facility in Prachinburi province in the lower northeast and will funnel its investment through its subsidiary HGST Thailand. The expansion would create 2,500 local jobs, and result in over $1 billion in additional hard disk drive exports, according to the BoI.

Seagate will relocate roughly 3,000 jobs to Thailand following the closure of another of its hard disk drive facilities in the region, the BoI said.

The two companies have been granted long-term incentives by the BoI. Under the investment incentive conditions, the two companies have to invest nearly $15 million in research and development. The promotions fall under the BoI’s approach to support Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to transform Thailand into a more advanced economy and society.

The BoI’s incentives require firms to engage in more technology transfer and training courses.  Western Digital, therefore, is establishing educational cooperation with 112 local education institutes.

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