2020 Global top 10 water filter OEM/ODM manufacturers

2020.05.31

 

(1)Introduction

The global outbreak of new coronavirus, which began in December 2019, was continuing at the time the author finished this document. Because China was the first country to implement citywide closures many factories were unable to reopen on schedule after Chinese New Year. Additionally, of those factories that could open on schedule, many of the workers who had returned home during Chinese New Year were either unable or not allowed to return to work; all of which led to chaotic situations in the upstream of the water purifier OEM business. Many Taiwanese manufacturers, who had originally purchased components from China, had to now purchase them from within Taiwan, and most expected that they would not to be able to buy them. The number of orders placed in Taiwan is more than the normal inventory would be for several months and It is therefore foreseeable that, after the end of the epidemic, the inventory of parts of each of these water purifier OEM will be greatly increased.

 

(2)Development of global water purifier equipment

The development of the water treatment industry has taken place over a period of more than 110 years. If we look at the number of Aquatech Water Treatment Exhibitions we can see that, by 2019, they held a total of 55 biannual sessions (110 years). However, the real boom in development probably occurred around 1995, causing water purification to become larger and wider in scope, with more and more manufacturers joining the industry by the year 2000.

 

(3)The competitive situation of the global water purifier industry

Officials and self-employed people in mainland China have discovered that water purification is a new and promising industry. One reason for this is that the rapid development of various light and heavy industries in mainland China over the past 30 plus years, has caused serious water pollution and the emergence of “cancer villages”, both of which have led the Chinese government and the private sector to fully invest in the production of water purification equipment, making the industry fiercely competitive; so much so that even the Chinese state-owned system has transformed into a semi-official company to produce water purification equipment and parts, subsidizing and supporting certain industry products (RO reverse osmosis membrane for example) and self-employed individuals within the industry.

The situation in a number of other emerging countries, such as Vietnam, India, Indonesia, etc., is the same as in China, where, because of the pollution of rivers and oceans, people have a demand for water purifiers, prompting more industrialists to invest capital in the development of the technology and in the importation of equipment in the water purifier equipment industry.

As a result, the demand for certain markets has led to the simultaneous development of water purifier equipment in these countries, which has also caused many manufacturers to research, develop, and manufacture their own products. Now, they are not just meeting domestic demands but are also adding the capacity to export their products and to expand the scale of their operations to countries such as Taiwan and South Korea.

 

4) Analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the water filter industry in various countries

Advantages for Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, and Egypt:

  1. It is easy and cheap to acquire land in these countries.
  2. In Turkey the government offers preferential policies to encourage people to invest in the water purification industry.
  3. The countries all produce crude oil and can supply cheap raw materials for plastics.
  4. Low labor costs
  5. With large populations, the domestic market is sufficient to support this industry.

 

It is due to the large domestic demand market, low labor costs, easy access to land, and the low barriers to entry that these emerging countries have been able to rapidly expand their water purification equipment industry.

Turkey and Vietnam in particular are the rising stars of the water purifier industry and may soon replace China because, in addition to their above listed innate competitive advantages, their supply chain industrial clusters are quite complete. In Vietnam, most of them are clustered in Hanoi, while in Turkey they are clustered in Istanbul. The purchasing of water purifiers, raw materials, and spare parts is extremely convenient; Plastic materials are widely used in water purification equipment. There are many usage ratios, and Turkey produces oil locally. It produces about 2.9 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products every day, a figure equivalent to 3% of the global daily supply. Turkey also has naphtha cracking and plastic raw material plants. The aspect of convenience and cheap cost is even more powerful for the development of water purification equipment in Turkey.

 

Furthermore, in order to protect their domestic water purifier industry, the Turkish government has recently covertly raised the import tax on water purifier equipment from 1.7% to 16.7%, an increase of over 10 times, making a threshold that allows local Turkish manufacturers to be more competitive and to give them a greater advantage.

The information in the following picture was obtained from the local Turkish google shopping website. The price shows the retail price for the end consumer. The content includes films and pressure barrels... (but does not include booster pumps). The retail price shows that, in Turkey, the market price of water purification equipment has reached bloodshed, but it can also be seen that the price advantage is cheaper than in mainland China.

Turkish people are hardworking, and most of them want to make money; this leads the author to conclude that, if there had been greater political stability over the past decade, it would have been possible for Turkey to have replaced China with regard to the manufacture of water purification equipment.

 

Disadvantages of Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, and Egypt:

  1. The clustering effect of peripheral component industries has not yet reached its peak in [Russia][the Russian Federation] or in Egypt
  2. The technical content of the water purification industry is low.
  3. The concept of quality needs to be strengthened.
  4. Companies are not willing to spend a lot of money to apply for product certification.
  5. Product automation is low.

 

By contrast, emerging countries entered the water purifier industry later, and the learning time is longer than that of advanced countries. Additionally, the accumulation of experience and the correction of failures also takes longer than in countries like Taiwan and South Korea. Another factor is that, because wages are low, there is no urgency within the industry to regenerate or to adopt the motivation of the automatic production model.

It is clear that, in order for an industry to have the right climate, suppliers need to converge into groups, in order to reduce the frequency of overseas purchases and to ensure the timely and immediate procurement of competitive key components locally. In the case of Russia and Egypt both countries either need more time to condense industrial clusters, or need to formulate a way to attract foreign investment and competitors from other countries to invest and set up factories in their country.

Taiwan and South Korea advantages:

These two countries entered the water treatment industry earlier, and have the following advantages:

  1. National quality awareness is superior to other emerging countries.
  2. Product innovation is relatively good.
  3. More attention is paid to product safety and durability.
  4. There is a deeper understanding of non-toxic products, and companies are willing to spend the sums of money required for the international certification of products.
  5. Government safety requirements for manufacturers are strict.
  6. Having a responsible attitude is relatively strong.
  7. The manufacturers of the various parts and components in the water treatment industry are clustered together. Parts are easy to obtain, there is no requirement for large parts inventories, delivery is more flexible, and there is no need to set up one-stop production, which can save manufacturing costs and a large amount of investment in machinery and equipment.
  8. Export duty-free, the tax rate of imported water purification equipment parts is reasonable, about 1-5%. (Taiwan)
  9. Willingness to provide a small variety of customized products. (Taiwan)

 

Taiwan's disadvantages:

The country of Taiwan has many disadvantages:

  1. A shortage of Labor
  2. Acquiring land is expensive.
  3. Shorter working hours, more holidays and higher manufacturing costs.
  4. A Lack of natural resources; all raw materials must be imported.
  5. Domestic demand is low so there is a reliance on exports.

 

Taiwan’s labor costs are several times higher, and manufacturing costs are relatively higher than those in emerging countries. Taiwan is a congenitally poor country, with densely built houses, no natural resources, and with a small domestic demand market. It therefore focuses on product quality and cost control, and on the provision of a small variety of customized products. Taiwan’s biggest advantage is that it is the world's OEM and ODM factory.

South Korea’s disadvantages:

There are a number of differences between South Korea and Taiwan. South Korea is more focused on product design and innovation and has a larger population than Taiwan does. Additionally, the South Korean domestic market is larger than Taiwan’s. South Korea also pays attention to the development of its own brands and there is a relative lack of willingness to produce items for other

brands.

The disadvantages of South Korea are as follows:

  1. The country with the highest wages among the main global water purification equipment manufacturers.
  2. Lacks resources of raw materials, such as activated carbon powder.
  3. The metal fittings in water purification equipment have not been deeply cultivated in South Korea's production technology, therefore they are almost 100% imported from China and Taiwan.


Comparison of advantages and disadvantages of water treatment industries in various countries

5) Distribution of global household water purifier equipment factories

The author lists ten factories in eight countries around the world. They are mainly OEM/ODM factories. 90% of these factories have been visited by the author so the credibility and correctness of this report is objective:

[1]    The management and market information within these factories are relatively accurate.

[2]    Most of these factories are distributed in emerging countries (annual national income is less than 9,000 US dollars). They have an advantage in price competition, and the factories of global brands are also more willing to purchase from them.

[3]    These emerging countries lack the concept of developing their own brands.

 

(6) List of the top ten global household water purification equipment factories

We are reporting on and analyzing the following water purifier factories in major countries:

❶Turkey

Filtek Filters

https://www.filtekfilters.com

❷Vietnam

2.1 Tecomen Group

https://tecomen.com

2.2 Sonha

www.sonha.com.vn

 ❸Taiwan

Easywell water Systems, Inc.

https://www.easywellwater.com

❹Egypt

Minlo

https://www.minlo.com/

❺China

5.1 Kemflo

www.kemflo.net

5.2 Runner Group

www.runner-corp.com

❻South Korea

Handok Clean Tech

http://hdctech.co.kr/en/home-en/

❼Russia

Aquaphar

www.aquaphor.com

Mexico

Rotoplas

www.rotoplas.com

 

 (7) Internal information and scale of the top ten foundries of global water purification equipment

Turkey

1.1  Fil-tek Filters

https://www.filtekfilters.com

The author has been fortunate enough to visit the Fil-Tek factory, which covers an area of about 8,000 square meters, specializing in OEM production of various parts and accessories for RO pure water machine, and which has also invested in pure water machine assembly.

The Turkish company Fil-Tek is predominantly an one-stop production model, ranging from the production of metal RO pressure drums, pressurization motors, film processing... and other key components, to the production of filter elements, filter bottles. Fil-Tek has been working hard towards reducing costs. The person in charge claimed that there was only one R&D engineer in the entire company, and the author could see that their management expenses were quite low.

1.2 Hazar

www.hazarsu.com

1.3 ESLİ Endüstriyel Ürünler Paz.

www.esli.com.tr

It is also worth mentioning that the following two Turkish import companies have spent the past ten years moving from import businesses to manufacturing plants, spending huge sums of money to increase equipment for production. Their investments will make RO reverse osmosis pure water machines and the water purifier equipment business in Turkey even more restricted.

 

1.2 Hazar

www.hazarsu.com

1.3 ESLİ Endüstriyel Ürünler Paz.

www.esli.com.tr

 

Vietnam

2.1 Tecomen Group

This company previously imported and sold South Korea and Chinese home appliances in Vietnam. It caught the boom in the Vietnamese water purification equipment market, increasing the import and sales of RO reverse osmosis pure water machines, and transformed the production of water purification equipment. Tecomen has built a large-scale production base in Hanoi, where the number of employees is 2,100 (source: the company’s official website). Additionally, according to the company’s 2019 statement, the combined revenue of the company’s two brands: Karofi and Korihome, already hold the greatest market share in Vietnam's domestic water purification equipment market.

 

This company began marketing its own two brands from early on. The Karofi brand services the upper-middle class market, while the Korihome brand services high-end customers.

In addition to having multiple physical sales channels in Vietnam, Tecomen have also started accepting overseas OEM orders. They also attended and exhibited at the Shanghai Water Treatment Equipment Exhibition in 2019. This company has considerable ambitions and in recent years has greatly expanded its physical sales channels in Vietnam, 3C stores, roadside franchise stores... where everyone can see signs and to be exposed for their products.

Products produced by this company:

1 under sink RO water systems

2 Water dispenser

3 Filter housing.

4 Filter Housing

 

2.2 Son Ha International Corporation

www.sonha.com.vn 

Son Ha was a factory in Vietnam that produced rooftop water storage tanks which then invested in the RO pure water machine market. When I visited this factory in 2013, I saw that they had temporarily partitioned off an area of about 1,000 square meters inside the factory which they turned into a simple RO reverse osmosis pure water machine assembly line. Son Ha is a listed company and has, just like the Tecomen Group, been developing the domestic market in Vietnam. It has spared no effort and has spent huge sums of money developing brands and establishing a sales bases in order to obtain the highest market share in the Vietnamese market.

Product items produced by this company:

1 under sink RO water systems

2 Water dispenser

3 Water storage tanks

 

Taiwan

Easywell Water Systems, Inc.

https://www.easywellwater.com

This Taiwanese factory is not large, it is small and beautiful, and is able to ensure that the quality of each batch of goods is consistent.

In addition, Easywell is different from its water purification equipment peers due to its responsible attitude:

 

  1. Global product liability insurance of USD 1 million is purchased annually in order to protect the purchase rights of customers.
  2. Quality concerns are addressed. Customers are informed, and products in transit and at the client’s sites are recalled.
  3. If there are problems with the quality of products from the factory or because of negligent service, the company is liable for any compensation.

Easywell is willing to be an OEM for larger factories and to undertake a small number of orders with great variety and variability.

Easywell’s OEM products are as follows:

  1. Filter Jug
  2. Reverse Osmosis
  3. Under Sink purifiers
  4. Faucet Filter
  5. Shower filter
  6. GAC filter
  7. Diverter valve, drinking faucet, Filter housing

In order to ensure that the quality of each batch of goods is consistent, the factory’s approach is as follows. Easywell has:

  1. A number of products (gooseneck faucet, special filter for refrigerator...) that have received obtained NSF product certification  https://reurl.cc/yy5a8D
  2. Four products that were awarded the Provincial Water Label of the Ministry of Economy, Taiwan
  3. Won the Taiwan Excellence Award for five consecutive years
  4.  A total of 54 products that have passed CE safety certification.
  5. Obtained 91 patents worldwide.
  6. established a test laboratory (in 1986), with expenditure of 17 million yuan over the years on the purchase of test equipment.
  7. Implemented IQC / IPQC / PQC / FQC / OQC at all times and done quality assurance work.
  8. Ensured that the details of daily quality control are unambiguous: the operator independently inspects, continues to inspect, implements gold samples, and carries out first and last parts inspections.

Egypt

Minlo

https://www.minlo.com/

The author visited this company in March 2017. They claim to be the largest water purifier production plant in Egypt, with more than 1,000 employees and about 50 injection molding machines. The factory produces its own:

  1. Polypropylene melt-blown filters
  2. Granular activated carbon filters
  3. Block activated carbon filters
  4. Various water filter bottles

According to the company's senior executives their market share in the Egyptian water purifier market is about 60%. Of course, there are still many shortcomings in the Egyptian supply chain. They also import key components from Taiwan, such as: water storage pressure barrels, PE water pipes, and In-Line filters. The main reason this company chooses to purchase from Taiwan is that the goods are nice and cheap.

Unfortunately, the author had no chance to visit the inside of this factory.

 

China

5.1 Kemflo

www.kemflo.net

In an interview with a well-known business magazine in Taiwan, Kemflo claimed to be the world's largest manufacturer of water filtration equipment. It has about 1,800 employees (Source: 104 Corporation’s 104 Human Bank website), has a factory located in Nanjing in China and is a Taiwanese funded enterprise. Although Kemflo has other product lines with different attributes (artificial wood, car roof storage boxes, agricultural valves...), most of the revenue source still comes from the water purifier equipment.

The company was founded in 1978, and its OEM customers are global brands, such as GE, Whirlpool, DuPont...

Their OEM products are as follows:

  1. CounterTop,Under Sink purifiers
  2. Faucet Filter
  3. Pleated filter, GAC filte
  4. Membrane filter, PP sediment filter,
  5. water dispenser ,
  6. RO accessories

In 2010, Runner Group and Paragon Water Systems, Inc. of the United States each invested 50%, and established "Bailin Water Purification Technology" in the Kemflo main factory, which allowed Kemflo to enter the water purification equipment industry and to produce all kinds of filters, components and water purifiers for household water purifiers, which it rebrands to Paragon.

Their OEM products are as follows:

  1. CounterTop,Under Sink purifiers
  2. Faucet Filter
  3. Pleated filter, GAC filter 

Through discussion with the senior staff of this company, the author felt that in just a few years, the turnover of Bailin Water Purification Technology had grown by multiples, and that the company has always had the ambition to be in the leading position so as to dominate China's water purifier equipment market.

 

South Korea

Handok Clean Tech Co., Ltd.

http://hdctech.co.kr/en/home-en/

This is a Korean factory that specializes in the production of block activated carbon and pre-filter cartridges. The factory is located in a building of about 7-8 floors, although I was only able to visit the production areas on only two floors. The degree of machine automation and labor saving on the site is quite high.

According to the company, South Korea's major water purification equipment manufacturers have commissioned them to produce filters. They also accept overseas OEM orders.

Product items produced:

  1. carbon block filter
  2. PE sediment filter
  3. Deodorizing filter

 

Russia

Aquaphor Group

www.aquaphor.com

The Aquaphor Group is located in St. Petersburg, Russia. The official website claims the company has 3,000 employees. The company’s prices are quite competitive. Aquaphor has a good reputation and a high product market share in many neighboring countries in Eastern Europe.

Product items produced:

  1. Filter Jug
  2. Reverse Osmosis
  3. Under Sink puritier
  4. Faucet Filter

 

Mexico

Rotoplas México

www.rotoplas.com

Rotoplas is a factory that manufactures plastic water storage tanks for roof taps. Originally, there were a relatively high proportion of them in Mexico City. Rotoplas entered the water purifier market early, as long as 20 years ago. In the beginning, it focused on the production of folding, block-shaped activated carbon filters and needed plastic filter caps. These are injected, processed and produced on plastic injection molding machines imported into Mexico from Taiwan. In recent years, they have gradually developed table-top water purifiers...etc, although the current pure water machines are still Imported from Ningbo, China

Product items produced:

  1. CounterTop, Under Sink purifiers
  2. Pleated filter
  3. Water Storage tank

(8) Conclusion

Water purifier equipment has evolved from a star industry over 20 years ago to a super competitive water purification "tragic industry" in recent years, mainly because many world-famous manufacturers have suddenly woken up and have discovered this new industry. To reinvest in this industry, no matter whether it is to set up a factory to produce, or whether it is to purchase a water purifier factory (for example: AO Smith,3M,uni lever), or even whether it is to find someone to produce under a brand and then to do brand marketing (for example: whirlpool, tupperwareStiebel EltronWatts).

It is clear that in order to survive in the water purification industry today, not only do you have to constantly launch new products, you also have to make the products different and to give them different characteristics. Additionally, you also have to ensure that the CP value is high.

Reference materials:

  1. Personally interviews by the author.
  2. The official websites of more than 10 companies
  3. Taiwan’s 104 Human Bank  www.104.com.tw
  4. Taiwan’s CommonWealth Magazine  https://www.cw.com.tw/
  5. Daily headlines   https://kknews.cc/finance/65mgpp.amp
  6. Turkey  https://arinaqua.sahibinden.com/

 

Content of this article is free to use, but please attribute the source.

 

Author: Rodger Lin, Easywell Water Systems Inc.

 

JUNE 1, 2020


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