Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 340, January 1998

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 Japanese Companies in the US


Having booked 350 North American orders in 1997 for its plastic injection molding machines, SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. decided that now is the time to start onshore production of this equipment. It is building a $10 million plant in Jefferson, Georgia, north of Atlanta, to make its smaller (55-ton to 165-ton clamping force) general-purpose machines for the North American market and export. When volume production starts in November 1998, the factory will be able to produce 20 units a month with a work force of 25 people. Employees will fabricate machine bases, machine platens and other parts and do sheet metal work. The only subassemblies planned for import from SHI are the plasticizing and control units.

By yearend, machine tool trader YAMAZEN CORP. expects to complete delivery to GENERAL MOTORS CORP. parts plants in North America of the machining centers and other equipment for five flexible transfer lines. The total order is worth $42.3 million. The most expensive flexible transfer line is a $15.8 million system for transmission and component processing at a GM plant in Mexico. Two of the other FT lines also are for transmissions, while the fourth will be used for gear cases. The last one will go to a GM agricultural engine plant.

Hiroshima-based TOYO ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD. — the first company to develop a high-speed, high-precision milling machine for cutting the walls and the grooves of energy-efficient, quiet scroll compressors used in air-conditioning systems — has a $9.2 million contract to install 16 scroll milling machines at the Connersville, Indiana plant of FORD MOTOR CO.'s Visteon Automotive Systems components division. The order covers the T-402SCY scroll milling machine, plus loading and unloading equipment, measuring units and integrated manufacturing control systems. Installation will start in January 1999. Starting this spring, NIPPON CARBURETER CO., LTD. will fill an order for multiuse carburetors from BRIGGS & STRATTON CORP. from a leased factory in Illinois. Production equipment will be brought in from Japan, where Nippon Carbureter already is making products for Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based B&S, the world's biggest manufacturer of multiuse engines. Annual output at the company's new subsidiary, which will employ 30 people, will be 300,000 units. In time, Nippon Carbureter, a NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. supplier in the automotive field, hopes to build its own U.S. plant.

To better serve North American users of its industrial-application clutch and brake products, OGURA CLUTCH CO., LTD. formed OGURA INDUSTRIAL CORP. in Somerset, New Jersey. Since 1969, KANEMATSU CORP. had handled sales of these products. The trader is a minority partner (20 percent) in the new company, which anticipates over five years to double the $15 million in current annual sales of Ogura industrial-use clutch and brake products. These include not only clutches, brakes and spring-applied brakes for industrial applications but also electromagnetic clutches for mobile applications, power takeoff clutch/brakes and electromagnetic clutches for lawn and garden equipment.

During FY 1998, ECHO, INC., a Lake, Zurich, Illinois maker of chain saws and lawn and garden equipment, will build a $4.6 million distribution center at its headquarters to consolidate storage now scattered among several sites. Echo, a KIORITZ CORP. subsidiary, expects a centralized distribution facility to trim costs.

Under an original equipment manufacturer agreement, NIPPON RESIBON CORP. is supplying its Super Skill Touch flexible grinding wheel to MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO.'s Abrasive Systems division. At the heart of the grinding wheel is 3M's 321 Cubitron abrasive grain, a ceramic mineral produced by sol gel processing. It is designed for grinding mild, high carbon and stainless steel as well as many nonferrous alloys. Nippon Resibon expects the OEM deal to be worth $5 million over three years.

An exchange rate of ¥130=$1.00 was used in this report.

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