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No. 359, August 1999

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American Companies in Japan


ELECTRIC MACHINERY

HONEYWELL INC., a world leader in the fields of home and building controls and industrial automation equipment, slowly is putting together a replacement marketing network for the one lost when it parted ways with YAMATAKE CORP. in late 1997 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 17). In its biggest move to date, the Minneapolis manufacturer named MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC WORKS, LTD. as the exclusive distributor of its air-conditioning controls. The sales tie-up could lead to joint product collaboration, sources say.

A more energy-efficient fluorescent bulb for stores and offices will be released soon by HITACHI GE LIGHTING, LTD. The equally owned venture between GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. and HITACHI, LTD. says that when the 7.5-foot-long, 110-watt FHF86EX-N bulb is used with an inverter, power consumption is 22 percent less than with other products in this category. That savings, the company hopes, will help it sell 240,000 bulbs a year. For several years, Hitachi GE Lighting has been trying to boost the commercial/industrial side of its business, where GE is strong.

The IEEE 1394 standard for enabling the convergence of computing, consumer electronics and networking technologies is starting to take hold in Japan. One sign of this is the decision by ZAYANTE, INC. (formerly Firefly, Inc.) to convert its Tokyo representative office, which was set up last year, into a subsidiary. The Scotts Valley, California company provides complete 1394 interoperability solutions through hardware (silicon intellectual property), software and testing products and services. Its goal is to help manufacturers develop 1394-compliant product designs cost-effectively, accurately and quickly. Zayante's subsidiary is looking for revenues of $833,300 in its first year of operation.

The subsidiary of big connector maker MOLEX INC. has developed a 1394-compatible product for plastic-encased fiber-optical equipment that can handle data transmissions among diverse electronics products at speeds up to 400 megabits per second, the target for the current version of the standard. Designed for video cameras, videocassette recorders and other digital home appliances, the compact connector should be on the market by yearend. With the backing of seven Japanese consumer electronics giants, Lisle, Illinois-headquar-tered Molex is trying to make its connector the industry standard.

By the end of 1999, LITTELFUSE, INC.'s subsidiary expects to be selling its product line directly to Japanese automotive makers and their parts suppliers. Since the Des Plaines, Illinois producer opened a subsidiary in Yokohama in 1997, electronic parts trader PICO, INC. has been in charge of distribution. This Tokyo company will continue to market Littelfuse's fuses for electronic devices even after the U.S. firm takes over sales of automotive fuses. One focus of Littelfuse's new marketing team will be value- added products, such as fuses for electric and hybrid vehicles. The subsidiary also has enlisted the help of FUJIX K.K., a Tokyo vehicle parts maker and distributor, to develop the aftermarket for its fuses.

The marketing unit of Andover, Massachusetts-basedVICOR CORP., the largest merchant manufacturer of high-density power components, is projecting first-year sales of $4.2 million for its second-generation, 48V input family of DC-DC converter modules. Developed for communications and other distributed power systems, the new converter products are said to provide better performance and greater reliability as well as cost advantages. Three package sizes — micro, mini and maxi — are available at prices ranging from $105 to $215.

For years, SAWYER RESEARCH PRODUCTS, INC., one of the world's largest quartz crystal growers, has shipped what is called bulk-wave quartz directly to customers in Japan. Recently, though, the Eastlake, Ohio-headquartered company opened a sales office in Yokohama. That move was part of its decision to try to tap the market for wafers for SAW filters, which are used in the fast-growing mobile communications equipment business. Buyers of quartz for SAW filters require after-sale follow-up, however, hence the sales office. Sawyer Research, which has roughly 30 percent of the world market for quartz SAW wafers, hopes to capture 10 percent of the Japanese market for this product within a year. Adding in wafers made from such new materials as lithium tantalate and langasite, the target is 15 percent.

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

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