Text and photos by Inigo S. Roces
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) inaugurate the new LTO Plate Making Plant at its main office along east Avenue in Quezon City. The opening is in time with the LTO’s 106th anniversary. The facility will be producing the plates in-house with machines from winning bidder, Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corp. and JH Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH.
The plant is housed in the original Plate Making Plant established by the Land Transportation Commission in 1967, the predecessor of the LTO. The facility was reopened with the P998.8 million procurement budget granted to the LTO. It is equipped with seven stamping machines, five laminating machines, five sticker printers, and two machines for quality control. With two shifts running, it can produce 22,400 plates a day.
This facility is hoped to meet the backlog of 775,000 pairs of plates for new cars purchased from July 2016 to December 2017, spanning 18 months. This does not yet include the plates needed for cars sold for the first four months of this year. The LTO plans to ramp up this capacity with the arrival of a fully automatic plate machine coming in July. This machine is capable of producing 12,000 plates per day.
How it’s made
Blank coated aluminum plates that are precut and imported by JH Tonnjes from Germany feature a QR code which is first scanned by a bar code reader. The plate to be stamped is flashed on the screen. The operator gets the appropriate blocks to emboss the letters and numbers with and inserts the blank. The characters are then embossed on to two plates before moving on to the next number.
These plates are then gathered and brought to the lamination machines. The machines apply the black detail on the all-white embossed plates as well as several security features. The plates are then inserted into the lamination machine and are then checked after. The quality control machines double check the details on the plate based on the QR code, ensuring the right number is going to the right plate and right car.
The plate itself has several security features designed to discourage tampering and forgery. For one, the font was specifically chosen for its distinct letters. Numbers like ‘0’, the letter ‘O’, the number ‘1’ and the letter ‘I’ have specific designs making it very hard to confuse one for the other. They also have distinct embossed features to make it difficult for anyone to change one letter or number into another. Finally, several security stickers and features are integrated into the plate and lamination process, designed to show if the plate has been tampered with.
No motorcycle plates
While four-wheel motorists will be delighted with this news, motorcycle owners will still have to wait.
“The production of the motorcycle plates, will, however, be deferred due to a proposed bill in congress for a differently-sized motorcycle plate,” said LTO chief Assistant Secretary, Edgar Galvante.
Motorcycle plates, on the other hand, have a backlog of 1.7 million units, according to the LTO. It is waiting the approval of a bill in congress that seeks to require larger and more legible plates for motorcycles intended to discourage motorcycle-riding perpetrators and crimes. A similar bill has been approved in this Senate, this time requiring two larger plates for motorcycles: one in front and one behind.