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No. 354, March 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


JAPAN DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANTS, INC. has agreed to give WITHROW INDUSTRIES, INC. U.S. marketing rights to its BeltBridle Type-II coil slitting line. The Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture developer says that its system eliminates the problems associated with the coil-rolling tension units commonly used today: elliptical rolled coils, uneven coil edges and dirt and scratches on the coil surface. The BeltBriddle is able to form a perfectly round, scratch-free coil because of the construction of its special endless belts and the way they work. Japan Development Consultants also believes that the ability of the BeltBriddle to handle high-grade steel, very thin steel, soft-coated steel and even nonferrous metals without leaving damaging marks on the surface will appeal to the 450 or so coil-slitting centers in the United States as well as other operations slitting coils. Chagrin Falls, Ohio-based Withrow Industries expects to start sales in April.

Having already sold more than 6,000 robotic systems in North America, including an estimated 1,000 last year, KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. has taken several steps to keep sales of its new F series of compact, high-speed robots expanding at a double-digit annual rate. The number of sales personnel at KAWASAKI ROBOTICS (USA), INC. in Wixom, Michigan has doubled, and that company has added a satellite office in Louisville, Kentucky in addition to ones in Los Angeles and Toronto. Moreover, a robot repair and maintenance facility is in operation at KAWASAKI MOTORS MANUFACTURING CORP., U.S.A. in Lincoln, Nebraska. Seventeen variants of the F series robots are available, including 11 for materials-handling applications and four for arc welding. The modular units can be installed on the floor, ceiling or wall.

The Buffalo Grove, Illinois marketing unit of electrical discharge machine manufacturer SODICK CO., LTD. has introduced what it calls a real advancement in the servo motors that power EDMs. Unlike traditional motors, Sodick's AM35L and AM55L linear motor servo systems operate without ball screws, couplings and other mechanical parts that can cause backlash and lost motion. As a result, the company says, EDMs have better speed, acceleration and torque for faster, more accurate metal removal and finishing. In preparation for the launch of the AM35L and the AM55L, the number of sales people at SODICK, INC. was increased to nearly 60. It is projecting a 20 percent gain in sales to $72.6 million in the year through March 2000.

The strong commercial building market in the United States is a magnet for Japanese makers of construction equipment hurting for business elsewhere. Cranes are a particular focus. KOBE STEEL, LTD., for instance, has introduced a heavy-lift crawler crane developed specifically for the North American market. The boom of the CK1000 can lift up to 200,000 pounds, while the maximum lifting capacity of the jib is 24,000 pounds. It can operate with the boom section extended to 190 feet and the jib at 60 feet. Calhoun, Georgia-based KOBELCO AMERICA, INC. hopes to sell 60 CK1000 cranes in 1999. To help achieve this goal, it has set up a parts depot and is in the process of expanding the number of dealers that handle Kobelco equipment. If sales hit their target, Kobe Steel will consider assembling the CK1000 at its Calhoun factory starting in 2001. For the last decade, the plant has made hydraulic excavators.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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