Interview with Excellence Opto President Huang Kouhsin: A Taiwan LED manufacturer in command of both technology and marketing access

LEDinside has recently visited Huang Kouhsin, former president of United Epitaxy Company and current president of Excellence Opto and High Power Opto, and Huang Fang-Yue, wife of president Huang and also the general manager of Excellence Opto, to get some knowledge about the current situation and future development of Excellence Opto group. Excellence Opto group has currently formed an integrative LED supply chain, which includes the upstream chip provider High Power Opto, middlestream packager EOI LXF, and Excellence Opto which is specializing in downstream products as well as marketing.

All the subsidiaries of Excellence Opto group have made remarkable achievements in the past years. Excellence Opto Company has shipped its Christmas lights products into the marketplace supply chain in the U.S., and its LED signal lights have also found their place in 270KK LED signal light bidding markets all over the world. The upstream High Power Opto has carried forward the R&D capacities of the former United Epitaxy Company (United Epitaxy Company was afterwards incorporated into Epistar), and is to release its Si-substrate blue light LED chip in later half of 2009, then it will become the third company to have successfully develop the Si-substrate LEDs. In the future, Excellence Opto will be able to step into the streetlight field with its own Si-substrate LEDs.

Excellence Opto: The No.1 brand of LED traffic signal lights

Excellence Opto’s products mainly include Christmas lights, signal lights and modules of car lights. The company strategically prefers not to compete with other LED providers in the “red battlefield” of backlight application market, but to place a high value on the obscure Christmas light and traffic signal light markets. The company has found another “blue sea” after commanding the key brands and market accesses in these markets.

Excellence Opto have seized a notably large market share in traffic signal light market, and the rate is as high as 60 per cent in Taiwan. Then what is the maximum size of this market? According to President Huang, there are approximately 9 million road crossings all over the world, each crossing with 4 directions, which means 8 sets of signal lights, or 30 LED lighting fixtures are needed for each crossing on average (including 24 red, yellow, green lights, pedestrian signals and turn-right, turn-left signals). To assume the price of each LED fixture to be US$30, then the global LED signal light market should be as large as 8.1 billion if all the traffic signal lights are to be replaced with LEDs. Under many countries’ current energy-saving policies, the growth space of this market is expectable.

As LED traffic signal lights are installed outdoors and exposed in the sun all the time, as a result, the product’s reliability and lifespan become crucial factors. Generally, the typical using period of such products is 5 years. Having entered this market for a long time, Excellence Opto has accumulated experimental data of a long period, which has set it at an advantageous status in the international biddings. The optical design is also of much importance for traffic signal lights, for there are around 44 points on a traffic signal light, which are supposed to be seen by pedestrians and drivers from all directions and heights. As the requirements and regulations for traffic signal lights varies in different areas, the capacity of providing custom-built products has gave the company a great advantage in the market competition.

And Excellence Opto has recently developed a range of high power LED signal light products also. There are currently only a few manufactures which have met the standards now set by the U.S. on the application of high power LED in traffic signal lights. As the brightness of high power red and yellow LEDs has been improved by 20 to 30 times than before, the number of LEDs in use are reduced substantially, thus high power LEDs can be expected to be seen in the signal light market in the future. Nevertheless, as the price difference between high power LED signal lights and regular LED signal lights won’t be too wide, the penetration rate growth of the former will be to some extent led by laws and regulations in the future.

Excellence Opto’s LED streetlight products

High Power Opto: The third chip manufacturer in the world to mass-produce Si-substrate LEDs

High Power Opto, whose technology team is from the former UEC, is specializing in upstream chip products, with its products mainly include four-in-one red and yellow LED chips. The market share of the company has exceeded 50 per cent due to its competitiveness in cost.

High Power is the third in the world to have successfully developed the Si-substrate blue and green light chips, just after OSRAM and CREE. The currently mainstream technology of chip manufacturers is to use sapphire substrate to grow crystal in blue light LEDs. The sapphire substrate though features excellent light transmission, doesn’t has as good heat dissipating performance. And High Power’ key technology is to replace the sapphire substrate with Si-substrate after completing growing the crystal.

High Power has already developed the world’s brightest 505nm green light LED with its Si-substrate technology. And its Si-substrate blue light LED chips are expected to enter mass production in September.

Present Huang noted that the Si-substrate overdoes sapphire substrate in both heat dissipation and reliability, thus is suitable for application in LED streetlights which require super cooling performance. In addition, Excellence Opto, the unit of the group which is specializing in end products, is also to adopt High Power’s products in streetlight and traffic signal light manufacturing in the future.

Viewpoint of LEDinside

President Huang holds that the R&D spending of Taiwan’s LED companies is still far from enough. The manufacturers are typically putting too much emphasis in mass production, cost reduction and management.

However, even when the companies have advanced to certain status in managing capacity and cost controlling, eventually they will be faced with the problem of overcapacity. Therefore, the independence in technology should be much stressed for the manufacturers.

Looking into the operational pattern of Excellence Opto, LEDinside finds that the core competitiveness of the group lies in its command of technology and marketing accesses. The LED industry has an enormous market space, while there are also a lot of competitors in this market, which makes outstanding technology capacity indispensable for surviving in the fierce competition. Currently, the LED manufacturers all have their own technology advantages. After the technology advances into certain level, command of brand and market accesses will be the key advantage to help the company win in the price competition. Therefore, the LED manufacturers should change the operational patterns which are relying on the cost competition; only this way will they be saved from the difficult position currently faced by the Two Trillion and Twin Star industry of the island.
 

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