#3. "RE: New Nikon factory" In response to Reply # 0
Western PA, US
Having manufacturing redundancy (and additional capacity) can be a good thing so long as Nikon takes a disciplined and consistently uniform approach to quality assurance, resource allocation, testing, clean-room practices and shipping/distribution.
#4. "RE: New Nikon factory" In response to Reply # 0
According to The Asahi Shimbun, "With the establishment of this new factory in Laos, part of the production for digital SLR cameras which are completed as final products at Nikon (Thailand) will be done in Laos," the company (Nikon) said.
Capacity, redundancy, etc. Both the Vientiane and HCM governments having been enticing high-tech companies to the region. There's a lot happening in the area. Lao Airlines is expanding its fleet because of increased demands for business travel to and from the country. The Laotian president, Choummaly Sayasone, spent 10 days in HCM City at the end of 2012 to tour and meet with officals at that so-called High-Tech Park in Vietnam. Laos has been moving in that direction for itself, following Vietnam's lead, and has been creating and populating its technical schools for several years now. Like Vietnam, a number of top schools in Laos are cranking out graduates who speak Cantonese or Mandarin, plus English and Japanese. A huge number of graduates still speak passable French as well (which makes sense considering how much influence the French had in the area for so long).
Considering that Laos is an expansion region, it makes sense for Nikon to establish relations and a solid footprint in the area now - relatively early that is. There is no reason that Nikon won't apply its usual quality control processes and put Japanese directors, supervisors and line managers in place until such time as the best possible Laotian managerial staff are ready to move up with all the usual performance and quality control incentives. Dedicated Laotian Nikonians are just as good as Nikonians everywhere else. Photographers in Vientiane will finally be happy because they'll be able to find Nikon bodies they want in stock more often in the local shops.
I think it'll work perfectly well unless someone at Nikon pulls a Toyota-like stunt by expanding too quickly and without sufficient supervision and puts the company in the doghouse for a while. But I think Nikon has had quite enough of creeping problems occuring at the factory assembly and final calibration level. I also think that Nikon has had enough of QA budget trimming/hyper-management, because the result has been below par in a couple areas. Lots of cameras being field tested, but too few staff compiling feedback and bothering the professional photographers and videographers for more detailed feedback.
If Nikon, on the other hand, is satisfied that the ruckus which developed over left-focus point problems and a couple of other issues never really made it to mainstream tech news, the company may also feel that the few problems which have occurred in a couple of recent camera and lens models may just be acceptable given the high degree of complexity in all of this gear. Other companies are dealing with the same sorts of problems from time to time and in varying degrees. The problems are not Nikon-only.
My point is that building, provisioning, staffing and opening a facility in Laos these days differs little from doing the same thing in Thailand, Vietnam, Phillipines, Indonesia, Canmore Alberta or Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for that matter. (Well, maybe not Canmore or Wilkes-Barre - they're waaaay too far from the supply chain).