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Business

Sri Lankan auto-parts maker rides global demand wave

With Japanese insights, an auto-parts maker leads the way for Sri Lanka's industrial sector.

Rohan Pallewatta talking about the impact sensors for airbags and seat belts for cars that his factory producers. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)

BIYAGAMA, Sri Lanka -- Across a brightly-lit factory floor in a free trade zone in Biyagama, a commercial town on the eastern fringes of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, workers in white baseball caps are hunched over long tables, methodically threading wires into matchbox-sized containers. The factory, which makes impact sensors for seat belts and vehicle airbags, enjoys the automobile industry's much-sought-after 1PPM (parts-per-million) quality safety standard, meaning that only one defect is permissible for every million parts produced.

Lanka Harness Company, which owns the factory, trades on this record as its calling card. "This is the global standard for a critical component in a car that can decide between life and death for a passenger," Rohan Pallewatta, the company's executive chairman, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "It requires the highest quality level; there can be no exceptions."

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