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No. 352, January 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Volume production of SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD.'s SH Series of smaller, general-purpose injection molding machines has started in Pendergrass, Georgia (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 5), marking the first time that the company has made this product overseas. For now, SUMITOMO (SHI) PLASTICS MACHINERY MANUFACTURING (USA), LLC expects to turn out 10 machines a month in the 55-ton to 165- ton clamping force range. In 2000, however, it plans to expand this output to 20 units a month. Marketing of these machines to North American electronics, automotive and other manufacturers is the responsibility of another SHI subsidiary in Norcross, Georgia.

MOTOMAN, INC., the wholly owned robotics manufacturing and marketing unit of YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP., has increased its Dayton, Ohio plant by 60 percent. That expansion is pivotal to its goal of boosting revenues to $170.9 million in FY 2000 from an estimated $119.7 million in the year through February 1999. The added space not only gives the company more capacity to turn out its extensive product lineup, including arc welding, assembly, coating, dispensing, laser welding, materials-handling, painting and spot welding robots. It also provides extra room for systems integration work and customer training. Selling more value-added robotic systems instead of stand-alone machines is seen as just as key to achieving the latest sales objective as increased volume.

The expenditure of $9.4 million has given the 12-year-old Reynoldsburg, Ohio subsidiary of big materials-handling equipment manufacturer DAIFUKU CO., LTD. the capability to launch integrated production of monorail and chain- type conveyer systems. Besides making its U.S. operation more competitive, Daifuku wants to better harness the expertise of its AUTOSIMULATIONS, INC. unit, a Bountiful, Utah developer of distribution software acquired in late 1996, to offer customers a comprehensive materials-handling solution. Virtually all of Daifuku's business in the United States reportedly comes from the local operations of Japan's car and truck builders. It would like to expand this base to the Big Three automotive makers.

Automotive and appliance manufacturers have a single source of products to automate their stamping press operations as a result of a marketing agreement between NACHI ROBOTIC SYSTEMS, INC. and ISI NORGREN. Under it, Anchorville, Michigan-headquartered ISI Norgren, which specializes in press- to-press materials-handling systems, will combine Nachi robots with existing or new press lines to create a fully integrated system. Novi, Michigan-based Nachi Robotic is the North American distributor of robots built by NACHI FUJIKOSHI CORP.

Like other Japanese manufacturers whose business is suffering because of the slump at home and in East Asia, KOMATSU ZENOAH CO. is looking to the U.S. market for a sales lift. This spring, it will introduce a line of environmentally friendly lawn and garden equipment. The first product is a lawn mower powered by a low-emissions, four-stroke engine jointly developed with RYOBI OUTDOOR PRODUCTS, INC., a Chandler, Arizona manufacturer of lawn and garden equipment that is owned by RYOBI LTD. Sales of the new lawn mower are projected at 5,000 units a year. Komatsu Zenoah plans to follow up with other low-polluting equipment, including presumably its mainstay grass trimmers/brush cutters.

PITNEY BOWES INC.'s high-speed mailing machines soon will incorporate the Bubble Jet printing technology developed by CANON INC. The two companies have forged an alliance that involves the sharing of technologies. It also calls for Canon to supply Bubble Jet product components on an original equipment manufacturer basis to the dominant U.S. maker of mailing systems.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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