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No. 357, June 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Expanding a relationship that started in 1997, YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. has made an investment described as "significant" in 3A INTERNATIONAL INC. that gives it a 30 percent equity interest in the Tempe, Arizona supplier of IEEE 1394 test equipment as well as international distribution rights to its devices for testing the industry-standard high-speed, low-cost interconnection between and among digital consumer electronics products, PCs and industrial appliances. The agreement also establishes a framework for joint product development. Since tying up with 3A to sell its product line in Japan, YEC, which also makes an IEEE 1394 testing device, has captured 80 percent of the domestic market. Both companies see considerable growth potential for development tools and test equipment designed for the IEEE 1394 standard, which also is known as FireWire (Apple Computer, Inc.) and iLink (Sony Corp.), particularly in digital home networks.

Over the next two years, FANUC ROBOTICS NORTH AMERICA, INC. expects to buy more than $1 million worth of machine vision systems from world leader COGNEX CORP. Rochester Hills, Michigan-based Fanuc Robotics, which has manufactured painting, welding, materials- handling, assembly and other robotic systems since 1987, will use Cognex's PatMax machine vision technology in a new generation of vision-guided robotic systems known as the Vision Integrator Package and visLOC. The PatMax software allows the robot to recognize and locate parts with a high degree of accuracy despite changes in their angle, size or appearance.

SURUGA SEIKI CO., LTD. and the Auburn Group Optics division of COHERENT, INC. have signed a cross-supply agreement in the optical-related products field. The Shimizu, Shizuoka prefecture manufacturer will provide optical-fiber positioning and aligning equipment to its Santa Clara, California partner on an OEM basis. Communications companies use this equipment to link the centers of optical fibers. In exchange, Coherent's Tokyo subsidiary will supply such products as diode lasers and laser propagation analyzers to Suruga Seiki for sale through its catalog.

MARUBENI CORP. joined eight earlier investors in raising $6 million in venture financing for R2 TECHNOLOGY, INC., the Los Altos, California developer of the ImageChecker breast cancer screening tool. The only such product approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the computer-aided detection system helps radiologists lower the chances of false negative readings when reviewing the results of mammograms. Marubeni put up $3 million of the new funding for R2 Technology, giving it a 3 percent stake in the company. In return, the trader's MEDITEC CORP. subsidiary received the exclusive right to distribute the ImageChecker system in Japan for three years.

Through its 1996 acquisition of ABX DIAGNOSTICS, INC. and the Irvine, California marketing company's French parent, a manufacturer of hematology analyzers for medical laboratories, hospitals and physician offices, HORIBA, LTD. hopes to build clinical instrumentation into a business rivaling its automotive emissions testing equipment (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 8). Its parallel goal is to boost ABX Diagnostics' share of the world hematology analyzer market to 15 percent in 2002 from 7 percent now. In time, ABX Diagnostics plans to manufacture hematology equipment as well as reagents in the United States. In the interim, it established a second facility in Irvine to provide technical support, service, customer training and customer service, plus warehousing and distribution.

Although its name generally is associated with copiers and other imaging products, CANON INC. is a longtime player in the medical diagnostic equipment business. To promote sales of its new digital radiographic X-ray equipment and associated picture archiving and communications system to hospitals, the company's Lake Success, New York subsidiary formed the Canon Medical Systems division in Irvine, California. This group will be supported initially by technical, sales and marketing people in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York City. The FDA- approved Canon Digital Radiography System allows medical personnel to preview X-ray images within 3 seconds of exposure and to view high-resolution diagnostic images about 30 seconds after exposure since they do not have to wait for film to be developed. PACS then displays, disseminates and archives the images.

YOSHIDA CORP. has given AFP IMAGING CORP. of Elmsford, New York exclusive rights to distribute in North and South America its panoramic and pan/cepholometric imaging devices for dental radio-graphy. An integrated patient chair and X-ray unit, the system is used mainly for whole jaw X-ray imaging by dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons. Yoshida's panoramic dental X-ray equipment has been sold in the United States for more than 20 years under the Panoura Ultra Pan name.

An exchange rate of ¥122=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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