Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 362, November 1999

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American Companies in Japan


ELECTRIC MACHINERY

The market in Japan for uninterruptible power supplies is expanding at about 20 percent a year. The demand for scalable, redundant power protection for data centers and centralized servers is particularly strong. That has prompted big UPS supplier AMERICAN POWER CONVERSION CORP. to introduce its first enterprise-level system, the Symmetra Power Array. Priced from $17,900, this unit has a modular architecture that enables data centers and server farms to ensure nearly continuous power availability in a range of capacities as they expand.

VICOR CORP.'s subsidiary is projecting first-year sales of $7.6 million for a new line of Japan-only AC/DC and DC/DC switching power supplies. The MultiPack Family 600- Watt Series and the MultiPack Family 800-Watt Series feature modules that slide into a chassis to provide the output voltage and the power required. Both series of power supplies, which range in price from $830 to $925, are field-configurable so that industrial users easily can add or replace modules on-site to meet changing requirements.

Roughly 80 percent of the world output of lithium-ion batteries, which provide the power to portable devices like notebook computers and cellular telephones, comes from Japan. That makes this market a prime target for a novel safety switch developed by THERM-O- DISC, INC. that protects high-energy-density lithium-ion batteries from thermal runaway. The part does this by using a shape memory alloy as a temperature/current sensor. The sensor returns to its "remembered" high-temperature shape on transformation, resulting in an open circuit before reaching thermal-runaway temperatures. Beginning in December, the Mansfield, Ohio manufacturer, an EMERSON ELECTRIC CO. business, will make 1.5 million shape-memory-metal battery protectors a month specifically for the Japanese market. Emerson's Tokyo subsidiary will handle sales. The device will cost between 19 cents and 28 cents.

From December, start-up SOFT SERVO SYSTEMS, INC. will ship to Japan what it says is the first direct PC-based motion controller. The Waltham, Massachusetts firm's SoftServo performs all time-critical control computations using a single, powerful central processor unit that runs on such operating systems as Windows NT and Linux and that is integrated with low-cost FPGA (field-programmable gate array) interface boards and a software library.

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