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No. 359, August 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


NONELECTRIC MACHINERY

Car and truck manufacturers operating in North America will have another onshore source of metal stampings as soon as May 2000. Big automotive stamping tool supplier FUJI TECHNICA INC. formed DIENAMIC SOLUTIONS, LLC in Bowling Green, Ohio with minority (30 percent) partner HONGO K.K. The pair expect to invest $25 million in the factory, which will be equipped with a 2,000-ton mechanical press, a 1,300-ton mechanical press, three 1,000-ton mechanical presses and four large machining centers. Employment could reach 65 people soon after start-up. Dienamic Solutions is projecting sales at $8.3 million in the first full year of production and double that figure in the third year. The factory will allow Fuji Technica, which currently builds all its stamping tools in Japan for the North American market, to provide more value-added services to customers, including maintenance over the life of products. Most of the business that Fuji Technica's Troy, Michigan marketing unit now does is with the Big Three and European vehicle builders.

ASAHI ORGANIC CHEMICALS INDUSTRY CO., LTD. has offered to buy the outstanding shares of Malden, Massachusetts-based ASAHI/AMERICA, INC., a marketer and manufacturer of thermoplastic valves, valve actuators and controls, piping systems, flow meters and industrial filtration equipment for a variety of applications. The Miyazaki prefecture company, Japan's dominant manufacturer of plastic valves and Asahi/America's principal supplier of this product, already is a partial owner. The deal is conditioned on the sale of QUAIL PIPING PRODUCTS, INC. — a wholly owned Asahi/America subsidiary that produces corrugated polyethylene piping systems for use in water, sewage and drainage projects and fiber-optic cable duct for the telecommunications industry — to a management buyout team for $4.5 million. Asahi Organic Chemicals will pay a minimum of $29.1 million to take over its affiliate.

JAPAN STEEL WORKS, LTD., among the world's biggest makers of plastic injection- molding equipment, is promoting its unique die slide system for hollow product injection molding. This process is said to eliminate most of the drawbacks of current methods for molding hollow products, such as uneven wall thicknesses that lead to strength problems, as well as joining two halves for closed products. JSW says that the DSI molding system is particularly well-suited to modularized automotive parts. JSW PLASTICS MACHINERY INC. of Anaheim, California likely will be in charge of marketing the DSI system.

In a major win, TOKYO KIKAI SEISAKUSHO, LTD., Japan's dominant maker of rotary printing presses for the newspaper industry, has contracts to supply equipment to DOW JONES & CO., INC., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and to Ohio's Columbus Dispatch. The Dow Jones order covers 18 TKS Color Top 6000 tower-type printing systems, which simultaneously print both sides of the page in four colors. Shipments to the plants around the country that print The Wall Street Journal started in July and should be complete by November 2000. The contract with the Columbus Dispatch involves four of the same systems. TKS's Richardson, Texas distribution subsidiary did not disclose the value of either contract.

HEIAN CORP. has landed a contract from TRW INC. for a CNC (computer numerically controlled) cutting machine that can process ultrahard materials at 5/100 of a millimeter. TRW will use the equipment to make solar panel frames for satellites. With this order in hand, the Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture manufacturer of woodworking equipment hopes to sell 10 of its $500,000 precision cutting systems a year.

Machine tool manufacturer KOYO MACHINE INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. is looking for more sales in the United States. Through marketing unit KOYO MACHINERY U.S.A., INC. of Plymouth, Michigan, which opened in 1991, the company had U.S. revenues of roughly $14.2 million in FY 1998. Most of its business comes from the sale of grinders to the North American assembly operations of Japanese automotive makers and to FORD MOTOR CO. To backstop the expansion strategy, Koyo Machine increased the capitalization of its subsidiary and opened a technical center at U.S. headquarters to provide better support to customers.

As part of its push to boost sales of superhard tool tips and other tooling to the U.S. metalworking and automotive industries, particularly to Japanese-affiliated participants, TOSHIBA TUNGALOY CO., LTD. will put out a catalog this fall that lists about 1,200 products. Its Elk Grove Village, Illinois sales subsidiary currently offers only a few hundred products. To the extent possible, Japan's top manufacturer of superhard tools also will make use of the North American distribution channels of Latrobe, Pennsylvania-headquartered KENNAMETAL INC. The two signed a wide- ranging business collaboration agreement earlier this year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 8).

Hoping to ride the boom in the U.S. construction equipment market, particularly the leasing end of the business, KOMATSU LTD. has penciled in combined FY 1999 sales of 200 units for two midsize additions to the US Series of hydraulic excavators introduced this past spring. The 28,000-pound PC128us-1 has a 0.59-cubic-yard bucket, while the PC228uslc-1 has an operating weight of 50,485 pounds and a bucket capacity of 1.05 cubic yards. Both machines feature a tight tail swing area, making them ideal for work in close quarters. If Komatsu's sales forecast is on target, KOMA-TSU AMERICA INTERNATIONAL CO. could start onshore production, presumably at its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory.

In a cost-cutting, efficiency-enhancing move, MINEBEA CO., LTD. — best known as the world's leading maker of miniature and instrument size ball bearings but also a major producer of stepper and spindle motors, keyboards, fans and mechanical assemblies — combined two of its U.S. marketing units into NMB TECHNOLOGIES CORP. That company reports to Minebea's North American headquarters, NMB (U.S.A.), INC. in Chatsworth, California. By coincidence, just two weeks after the merger, NMB Technologies officially opened a technical center in Wixom, Michigan for testing and analyzing bearing and motor applications for various markets, including automotive. The facility can simulate all environmental and customer-use conditions, including temperature, humidity, altitude, contamination and corrosion. It also has a complete noise and vibration analysis capability.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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