Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 351, December 1998

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American Companies in Japan


The financial problems of some companies affiliated with FV CORP. will help COCA-COLA CO.'s Japan operation move closer to its goal of having 1.3 million vending machines across the country. For an undisclosed price, the Tokyo food and beverage retailer will sell its roughly 40,000 vending machines to Coke, which now has a nationwide network of 930,000 vending machines.

At an estimated cost of $24.8 million, the joint venture between the Mercury Marine unit of Lake Forest, Illinois-headquartered BRUNSWICK CORP. and TOHATSU CORP. will expand four-stroke outboard engine capacity at its Okaya, Nagano prefecture plant as well as fund further development work on environmentally friendly, energy-efficient two-stroke, direct-injection engines. The capacity expansion will give the company the ability to turn out more than 160,000 outboard engines annually in four or five years. It currently can make 80,000 MFS5A four-stroke engines a year in a range up to 140 horsepower, having recently boosted annual capacity from 60,000 units. The factory's output goes to Mercury Marine and Tohatsu as well as to NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. on an OEM basis.

KENNAMETAL INC., a world leader in superhard tool tips and other tooling for the metalworking industry, has opened a technical center in Nagoya. Through this facility, which is equipped with CNC engine lathes, grinders and other machine tools, the Latrobe, Pennsylvania manufacturer's KENNAMETAL HERTEL JAPAN LTD. unit is able to demonstrate the cutting abilities of its tooling as well as provide tooling adjustments for its customers. The tech center also houses the Kennametal marketing operation responsible for central Japan, which is home to many of the country's machine tool builders as well as numerous companies that use machine tool in their work.

Filling a March 1998 contract valued at $2.1 million, GLEASON WORKS shipped to OKUBA GEAR CO., LTD. one of its Phoenix 800G Computer Controlled Hypoid Grinders. This large-capacity grinder is optimized for hard-finishing pinions and gears in order to reduce or eliminate the process variations that can occur during normal gear manufacturing operations. Atsugi, Kanagawa prefecture-based Okuba is a longtime customer of the Rochester, New York machine tool company, but this is its first purchase of a Phoenix CNC machine tool for manufacturing bevel and cylindrical gears. It will use the 800G to make low-noise, compact bevel gears and speed reducers.

The long-standing lift truck manufacturing venture between NACCO MATERIALS HANDLING GROUP, INC. -- the Portland, Oregon parent of U.S. industry leader HYSTER CO. and YALE MATERIALS HANDLING CORP. -- and SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. has released a 35-model line of redesigned battery-operated reach-type forklifts. Despite the overhaul, Aichi prefecture-based SUMITOMO-YALE CO., LTD. kept the prices of the R-X Reliance Reach Series at the same level as the replaced models, or between $21,700 and $29,100. The partnership hopes to sell 600 of the new models a year.

COMCO INTERNATIONAL, INC., a manufacturer of flexographic and converting systems for cartons, flexible packaging and labels, has tied up with a Tokyo- based affiliate of DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC. to market its equipment to label and packaging suppliers. The first of the Milford, Ohio company's line that INCTEC INC. is distributing is the ProGlide quick-change press. Comco claims that its in-line component changeover system, which costs less than $826,400, requires less manpower, equipment and floor space than off-line cassette changeover systems and is less expensive to operate than the alternative technology. A complete component changeover, it says, can be accomplished in 90 seconds. Inctec expects these advantages to help it build ProGlide into a $12.4 million annual business.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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