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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Jobs boost for hi-tech firm
By Eddie O'Gorman
BBC Northern Ireland business correspondent

Up to 200 new jobs could be created by the Antrim company Schrader Electronics as a result of the growing demand for its tyre pressure monitors.

The monitors are electronic devices attached to the inside of the wheel rim, designed to transmit a readout of their tyre pressures to a dashboard display.

There is a growing demand for tyre pressure monitors
The Americans are making them compulsory over the next few years, with legislation being introduced in November, and Schrader have already been talking to representatives of the European Parliament in the expectation that Europe will follow suit.

Schrader are the market leaders for these devices, and already supply companies like Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Renault.

They have doubled their production for General Motors in recent months, supplying the monitors for GM's 4-wheel drive vehicles.

The company's financial director, Graeme Thompson, said: "We are already the market leaders in this area, supplying seven out the world's top ten car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, and Nissan.

"We are currently producing between 400,000 and 500,000 of these devices a month. At full capacity we could turn out 11 million a year."

There's no doubt that we will need to build another factory
Graeme Thompson
Financial director

Schrader employs nearly 300 people at its Antrim plant, and demand has increased to the extent that the company has recruited over 70 people in the last few months.

Mr Thompson said he expected that they will need another 200 or so more employees over the next few years.

"Some of the other large electronic automotive companies are moving into this area," he said, "but we still have 60% of the market, and we're very confident of remaining the number one supplier."

Schrader in Antrim is a subsidiary of a UK group, but as the only electronics company in the group, it is the only plant producing tyre pressure monitors.

Graeme Thompson believes that the continuing demand for their product will have important implications for the company.

"There's no doubt that we will need to build another factory," he said, "and we're very confident that we will be able to bring it to Northern Ireland."




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