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No. 363, December 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Machine vision-based automated inspection systems manufacturer PPT VISION, INC. has received a $1 million-plus contract from TOKYO WELD CO., LTD., the first under a new long-term OEM supply agreement. The Japanese company makes systems for the back- end processes involved in the production of surface-mount technology passive components, such as resistors, capacitors and inductors. PPT VISION's high-speed, two- dimensional machine vision inspection systems will be combined with Tokyo Weld's passive component production equipment to provide complete, on-line inspection of individual components. The Minneapolis firm expects this order to be followed by other contracts.

Through one of its seven distributors, CVI LASER CORP. put on the market the SM-240 Handheld CCD Spectrometer, which, used with a PC, provides spectral information and color data. The unit is extremely adaptable. For example, the spectral range can be configured to meet the user's requirements. Moreover, depending on the accessory chosen, the SM-240 can be employed for process control, spectroscopy, environmental monitoring, color testing and other applications. It also can be configured for transmission, reflectance, absorbance and other measurements. TEKSEL CO., LTD., one of CVI's smaller wholesalers, priced the base SM-240 unit at $3,100. The Albuquerque, New Mexico company's biggest distributor is FUTURE INSTRUMENT TRADING CORP.

Given its forecast of $28.6 million in first-year sales, TOYO CORP., one of the top importers of precision instruments, obviously believes that a strong market exists in Japan for the scanning probe microscopes made by THERMOMICROSCOPES. Four of the Sunnyvale, California firm's products are available. The AutoProbe M5 contains in its single head the scanning probe microscopy modes most often required in industry and basic research, including contact, noncontact and intermittent-contact atomic force microscopy and lateral force microscopy as well as such advanced modes as scanning tunneling microscopy. For companies seeking versatility in atomic force microscopy, ThermoMicroscopes has the Explorer, while its AutoProbe CP Research is designed for organizations requiring the most advanced SPM research instrument. Finally, Toyo is marketing Aurora, which is what is known as a near-field scanning optical microscope.

The team of RISK MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, INC. of Menlo Park, California, contractor KAJIMA CORP. and OYO CORP., one of the world's leading geological research firms, is developing a system to predict in detail the damage to various types of structures from earthquakes and the costs of repairs. The partners believe that such information will be in increasing demand as the real estate-backed securitization market grows. RMS is providing its catastrophic risk evaluation and management expertise to the project, while Kajima will contribute its earthquake-resistant technology and Oyo its geological data base. Since early 1998, RMS and Oyo have offered sophisticated risk modeling products and services to insurers and the like through a Japan-based venture.

VEXCEL CORP. of Boulder, Colorado is offering through a Tokyo distributor a more affordable alternative to high-density tape and digital recorders for general-purpose digital data acquisition and retransmission from satellite downlinks or other high-rate digital data sources. The Vexcel Direct Capture System allows this information to be captured directly on standard computer disks for processing, storage or retransmission via networks and communications satellites. VxDCS consists of a Unix workstation with a PCI bus, a disk array, driver and control software and one or more of Vexcel's integrated circuit boards.

Although earlier this year, SONY TEKTRONIX CORP. indicated that it planned to reduce its product dependence on co-owners TEKTRONIX, INC. and SONY CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), two of the joint venture's latest test and measurement devices come from its Wilsonville, Oregon parent. The PQM 300 Program Quality of Service Monitor is designed to monitor in real time the quality of compressed television so that broadcasters can detect defects before they become complaints. Priced at $44,800, the basic PQM 300 monitors two channels, but it can be expanded to track eight channels. The companion MTM 300 MPEG Multistream Transport Monitor likewise allows broadcasters to monitor simultaneously and in real time up to eight transport streams anywhere in the system to ensure that they comply with the appropriate standards. This system costs $51,000. Between the PQM 300 and the MTM 300, Sony Tektronix hopes to sell roughly 100 units a year.

For radiology facilities that do not have the volume of business to justify the KODAK DRYVIEW 8700 Laser Imaging System, which has a throughput of 120 14 x 17-inch films per hour, EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary introduced the 55-films-per-hour KODAK DRYVIEW 8100 system. With this exception, the two dry-processing imaging systems are identical (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 20). The new model, of course, is a more affordable $74,300.

MHW's December 1998 decision to allow medical facilities to use microwave disinfection to transform infectious medical waste into a product safe for disposal as municipal solid waste could be a real boon for SANITEC, INC.'s business. The West Caldwell, New Jersey company makes microwave disinfection systems. This equipment, available in stationary and mobile versions, combines advanced shredding technology with conventional microwave action. Sanitec named NITTO SHOJI CO., LTD. of Kochi prefecture as the exclusive distributor of the HG-A 100S and the HG-A 250S. These models differ only in their throughput: 220 to 400 pounds an hour versus 550 to 900 pounds per hour. Including installation, the smaller system costs about $1.1 million, while the larger one is about $1.6 million. Nitto Shoji believes that it can sell about 10 units a year. Sanitec already has sold six systems to hospitals on its own.

Over the last year or so, BECTON DICKINSON AND CO., a major supplier of medical laboratory apparatus and associated equipment, has identified what it believes are several growth fields in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22). The latest addition to its list is equipment that supports genetic research. As soon as 2001, the subsidiary of the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey company plans to put on the market a diagnostic system that can detect the microorganisms implicated in venereal diseases. Other pending releases include a system that helps to calculate the risk of developing various types of cancer and equipment and reagents to assist client companies conducting genetic research.

Market newcomer AXOM INSTRUMENTS, INC., a Foster City, California developer of instrumentation and software for cellular neuroscience and genomics, gave INTER MEDICAL CO., LTD. exclusive rights to represent its genomic research product line. The initial such product is the GenePix 4000 microarray scanner, which provides integrated acquisition and first-pass analysis of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) microarrays, otherwise known as gene chips.

Laboratory automation equipment manufacturer ZYMARK CORP. has scored its first big sale since opening a sales and service subsidiary in Tokyo this past summer. TAIHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. purchased the Hopkinton, Massachusetts firm's new Allegro Combo system for high-throughput screening of compounds for biological activity. The midsize drug company is the initial Japanese buyer of this drug-discovery tool.

Opening up yet another marketing channel, this one into hospital operating rooms, GE MARQUETTE MEDICAL SYSTEMS JAPAN, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22) will work with DRAGER JAPAN, LTD. Starting in 2000, the subsidiary of the German firm will market GE Marquette's patient monitoring systems with its own anesthesiology equipment. The pending tie-up comes in the wake of a similar collaboration between the parent companies. GE Marquette ranks second in Japan in patient monitoring systems, while Drager Japan holds the same position in the anesthesiology equipment business.


Represented by SUMITOMO ELECTRIC SYSTEMS CO., LTD., Atlanta's PER-SE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. sold its Patient1 clinical information system to St. Mary's Hospital in Fukuoka. With nearly 1,400 beds, St. Mary's is one of Japan's largest private hospitals. Patient1, which will augment the hospital's current clinical information capabilities, integrates all aspects of the care experience into a single, confidential computer-based patient record. The contract also includes Per-Se Technologies' new Vista clinical software, a Java-based graphical user interface that expands clinical views and provides Web access.

With a relatively high incidence of cardiovascular disease in Japan, especially hypertension, HYPERTENSION DIAGNOSTICS, INC. sees a potentially significant market for its noninvasive cardiovascular profiling technology. The St. Paul, Minnesota company awarded exclusive marketing rights to its equipment to the Higa Medical Systems Division of HIGA INDUSTRIES, LTD. The Tokyo firm will be responsible for managing all aspects of the MHW approval process, starting with the HDI/PulseWave CR-2000, a product that currently is in use in the United States for research purposes only. Higa Medical Systems also will market the HDI/PulseWave DO-2020/MD-3000, which is intended to assist physicians in screening patients for underlying cardiovascular disease. This system has not received the FDA's marketing go-ahead yet.

All of MICRO THERAPEUTICS, INC.'s first generation of minimally invasive neurovascular access and delivery products have been approved for sale in Japan. The last to receive MHW clearance was the Equinox Occlusion Balloon System, which is used in procedures that require selectively stopping or controlling blood flow in vessels. In September, the ministry cleared the EASY RIDER Micro Catheter, the FLOW RIDER Flow Directed Catheter and the SilverSpeed Hydrophilic Guidewire. Irvine, California- based Micro Therapeutics' neurovascular and peripheral vascular products are distributed exclusively by CENTURY MEDICAL INC.

The first in a new series of dilation catheters from GUIDANT CORP. has received MHW approval. The ACS RX GEMINI Coronary Dilation Catheter, which was designed with input from Japanese doctors, incorporates a new coil for greater flexibility when the balloon encounters tortuous arteries. It also features a more robust shaft technology that increases the push for crossing tight lesions. The Indianapolis firm's subsidiary will handle marketing of the ACS RX GEMINI.

With MHW marketing approval in hand, exclusive distributor SANKO JUNYAKU CO., LTD. has begun sales of IMMUCOR, INC.'s ABS2000 and related reagents. The Norcross, Georgia manufacturer describes the ABS2000 as the only fully automated blood bank analysis system for hospital transfusion services. Earlier this year, Immucor and Sanko Junyaku signed a new marketing agreement (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 23).

An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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