Sharp brings 10G LCD production forward six months

Sharp has decided to bring forward the start of operations at its 10th generation liquid crystal display plant in Osaka, Japan from March 2010 to October this year in the face of a global downturn for consumer electronics.

The decision was announced as the company announced an estimate of heavy losses for the year just ended, doubling from the original projection.

“Demand is improving,” Sharp president Mikio Katayama told a news conference in Japan. “Getting the world's most cost-competitive factory onstream as quickly as we can will be a powerful weapon to win in this tough climate.”

Earnings were hit by mounting inventory from unsold LCD panels and TVs as consumers rein in spending amid the global economic crisis, as well as restructuring costs.

Sharp now expects an operating loss of 60 billion yen: its first-ever operating loss and double its estimate in February.

In a statement, Sharp claimed it saw demand increasing from emerging economies such as China. “While full-capacity operation is underway at Kameyama Plant Number Two, Sharp has decided to start operations this October at the new LCD panel plant in Sakai City, where the evaluation of technology for mass production has been completed, to meet this growing demand,” the company stated.

The plant will be the first to use 10th-generation glass substrates, which measure almost 9 square metres, more than double the area of the 8th-generation motherglass that the company currently employs. The plant will produce LCDs for 40, 50, 60in TVs.

The company started construction of the Sakai plant in November 2007.

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