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Smartmatic vows on-time delivery of poll machines

Posted on: November 13, 2009

Smartmatic vows on-time delivery of poll machines

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:07:00 11/13/2009

Filed Under: Infotech, Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines—The automation partner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has assured the poll body that it would deliver on time the 82,200 poll machines to be used in the 2010 polls.

Cesar Flores, Smartmatic president for Asia-Pacific, told the Inquirer.net in an interview Wednesday that Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) would be able to manufacture and deliver 42,000 poll machines in December and the remaining 40,000 units in January next year.

Despite the one-month delay in the production of machines and the transfer of assembly lines from Taiwan to China, Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) they would be able to manufacture and deliver 42,000 machines on December and another 40,000 units on January next year, Smartmatic president for Asia-Pacific Cesar Flores told INQUIRER.net.

Flores made the assurance in response to media reports quoting Comelec chairman Jose Melo as saying he was worried that the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines might not be delivered on schedule.

The reports said Melo’s fear stemmed from the one-month delay in preparations the poll body has to make as it waits the final ruling of the Supreme Court on a taxpayer’s suit filed against Comelec’s P7.2 billion automation deal with Smartmatic-TIM.

Another factor cited was the transfer of the machines’ manufacturing plant from Taiwan to Shanghai, China.

The Smartmatic-Jarltech joint manufacturing facility in Shanghai is “bigger and has more capacity” than the one in Taiwan in terms of building the poll machines out of 12 major components, said Flores.

Flores added moving the assembly lines to Shanghai to avoid production delays from flooding caused by typhoons that might hit Taiwan, also “improved the supply chain” for the production.

“The shift of production to China improved supply chains because the 12 components for the PCOS machines, which are manufactured in China, can be easily shipped to Shanghai. Instead of shipping the components from China to Taiwan we can transport the components directly, which puts us in better position to meet the deadlines,” he added.

“So there is no need for Chairman Melo to have worries or nightmares regarding the delivery. Although we might have delays in the start, we are always able to meet the delivery schedules,” said Flores.

The Shanghai facility will produce each week an average of 10,000 poll machines in December and January, said Flores.

Upon arrival in the country, the poll machines that still contain the base configuration of the automation software, will undergo several tests before being accepted by Comelec. The automation software had to undergo certification, customization and open review before it can be loaded to the machines, according to the poll automation law.

After the acceptance testing, the machines will be loaded with the certified and customized automation software by February, after which it will undergo a final testing and sealing three to seven days before deployment to clustered precincts nationwide, said Flores.

During an informal talk with Flores, Melo said that he was worried the dust accumulating on the machines’ rollers might compromise the integrity of the scans and the reading of the ballots, as what he had observed in the 20 prototype units that arrived on September.

Flores said the dust, which is found on the machine’s rollers that take in the papers fed into the scanner, can be easily cleaned by the 50,000 technical or IT personnel that Smartmatic will hire to assist in troubleshooting the poll machines.

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