Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 348, September 1998

Issue Index

Japanese Companies in the US


The world's largest manufacturer of foundry equipment, SINTOKOGIO, LTD., has expanded its stable of North American affiliates to five. Through ROBERTS SINTO CORP. of Lansing, Michigan, it acquired SANDMOLD SYSTEMS, INC., which designs, makes and installs green sand systems, foundry automation, sand reclamation systems and battery paste systems. The 90-employee SandMold Systems is based in Newaygo, Michigan. It also has an operation in Cleveland that designs and manufactures control systems for the foundry market and other customers. Sales in 1997 were around $20 million. Roberts Sinto, which employs 220 people, produces flaskless and tight flask molding systems as well as Shalco core equipment. It had FY 1997 revenues of some $40 million. Sintokogio's other North American subsidiaries are WIXON PRODUCTS, INC. of Wixom, Michigan, FINISHING ASSOCIATES, INC. of Southampton, Pennsylvania and SINTO AMERICA, INC.

To better cope with the downturn expected in the big American construction equipment market, KOMATSU LTD. reportedly plans by yearend to revamp its U.S. manufacturing operations. The world's number-two maker of earthmoving machinery will sell the Galion, Ohio plant of its wholly owned KOMATSU AMERICA INTERNATIONAL CO. subsidiary to HYDRAULIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The factory builds the hydraulics for Komatsu's locally made excavators and other machinery. Once the deal is finalized, KAIC will contract with the Lake Forest, Illinois-headquartered company for hydraulic equipment. As part of this transaction, Komatsu will shift production of the hydraulic excavators, motor graders and compaction rollers also made at the Galion facility to its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory, which now manufactures hydraulic excavators and wheel loaders. KAIC also has a plant in Peoria, Illinois. Komatsu has about 15 percent of the U.S. construction equipment market. In FY 1997, this business contributed around 40 percent of the parent's consolidated pretax profits.

SAKAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD., one of the three biggest makers of road- paving equipment in the world, is planning a major U.S. marketing push next spring in an effort to lift an American market share that now stands below 5 percent. The key to this thrust is the introduction of equipment designed specifically for the United States. The first such product to be launched by Sakai's New Castle, Delaware subsidiary will be a 10-ton- class vibration roller. An asphalt cutter will follow in June. Over the next two to three years, Sakai also expects to double its current network of 25 dealers, most of which are located on the East Coast. If all goes according to plan, the company's American sales will hit $34.5 million in FY 2000 from roughly $10.3 million in FY 1997.

Over the next four years, the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey subsidiary of MITSUI SEIKI KOGYO CO., LTD. will work with UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP. to develop machine tool and cutting technologies for faster, more accurate machining of what are known as fan integrally bladed rotors; these serve as the intake fan blades for jet propulsion engines. Machined from a single piece of metal, Fan IBRs offer power and safety benefits over conventional rotors on which blades are assembled. The platform for the collaboration, which will take place at the big aircraft engine manufacturer's East Hartford, Connecticut research center, will be a Mitsui Seiki-supplied machine designed specifically for high-speed, simultaneous, five-axis machining of the Fan IBR's complex geometries. As UTC and Mitsui Seiki refine the processing requirements, the Japanese company will be responsible for generating engineering designs, making prototypes and doing component fabrication.

Sometime during the summer of 1999, FUJI SEIKI MACHINE WORKS, LTD. will start exporting drilling machines and other machine tools to the United States. An affiliate of TOSHIBA MACHINE CO., LTD., the Shizuoka prefecture manufacturer will use its parent's U.S. marketing channels. There will be little or no overlap between the two companies' product lines because Fuji Seiki plans to specialize in machines for processing aluminum sheet in the aircraft industry.

With a distributor expected to be selected shortly, TAIZEN CO., LTD., a Shizuoka prefecture supplier of waste paper processing machinery, plans to begin sales in the United States next spring. The company's mainstay product will be the New Taizen, a machine for removing ink from waste paper that features an efficient kneading process. Taizen expects 20 systems a year to be sold.

An exchange rate of ¥145=$1.00 was used in this report.

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