Kurimoto Expands Its Horizons

Japanese press builder targest North American market.

Kurimoto Ltd. announces that it is constructing three presses at its facility in Osaka, Japan, for delivery to NTN Driveshaft (USA) for manufacturing constant velocity joint (CVJ) forgings. In recent years, the company has supplied eight presses to the U.S., most having been sold to Japanese-affiliated companies who are well aware of Kurimoto’s reputation in Japan for designing and producing quality metalforming equipment.

Since it was founded in 1909, Kurimoto has built a dominant position in the domestic metalforming equipment market, and the company claims to be Japan’s No. 1 supplier of mechanical presses for hot and warm forging. It includes among its customers Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and others in the Japanese automotive industry.

The company is launching a marketing effort to make forgers in North America more aware of its line of forging presses. Kurimoto markets its machines in the U.S. through Nissho Iwai American Co. (NIAC), Southfield, MI.

The North American initiative is part of a larger effort to increase its marketing efforts overseas. In addition to the customers it already has in the U.S., the company has customers in Korea, Brazil, China, Thailand, Philippines, India, and the former Soviet Union. “Some may regard it as a paradigm shift in our marketing strategy, but we are going to focus on foreign markets more than ever before,” Mr.Kitamura, overseas marketing manager for Kurimoto, recently informed Forging. “Our products have been embraced here in Japan and that gives us confidence that we can increase our presence abroad.”

Kurimoto has significant experience in building presses for CVJ makers. Recently, the company shipped a 2000-ton automatic press to Thailand expressly for CVJ production by GKN Driveshaft, established by Britain’s GKN PLC and Japan’s Toyoda Machine Works.

Kurimoto accepts orders for presses in the 1000- to 6300-ton-capacity range. It has sold some 350 units, meeting the tough demands of the leading Japanese automakers and their suppliers for state-of-the-art equipment to manufacture automobile parts such as CVJ, CVT, bearings, hubs, gears, crankshafts, connecting rods, and so on.

Company officials explain that Kurimoto first developed a prototype of its C2F Series mechanical forging presses in 1978. The company was first to develop an AC servo transfer system for warm/hot forging presses in Japan.

Combined with the AC-servo-driven automatic transfer system (TES Series), the C2F Series is intended for diversified mass production. Peripheral devices such as the TES automatic transfer system and a quick die changer are adaptable to individual customer needs. They are used to automate not only Kurimoto's presses, but also for upgrading presses made elsewhere. Kurimoto has shipped 49 C2F series presses with TES and carried out 16 projects upgrading existing presses with TES.

Company officials report that customers increasingly demand presses supplied with automatic transfer and that 2003 was record year for Kurimoto in the number of orders received for its highly popular TES systems.

Kurimoto also builds the CFM series, which is a simplified standard design, not as highly customizable as C2F and therefore much more affordable.

Mr. Kitamura predicts that the American metalforming industry will become more aware of the Kurimoto brand. “With a track record such as ours, we are poised to do well in this market.” He notes that the company recently “made quite a splash” at the FABTECH exhibition in Chicago in November 2003 with its innovative roll-bending machine, designed to ensure perfect concentricity of the rolled steel plates.

According to Mr.Kitamura, when the company moves into a foreign market, it begins by building a maintenance and technical support foundation. “Our success in Japan is in large part predicated on having built a comprehensive maintenance system,” he said. “We already have our maintenance engineers deployed in the U.S. And this is just a beginning. As we increase our share of the American market, we will be expanding our maintenance network there.”

For more information about Kurimoto forging equipment, contact Mr. Akira Okuda, Nissho Iwai American Corp. Detroit Office, 300 Galleria Officecentre Suite 112, Southfield,MI 48034. Phone: 248-357-7556 Fax: 248-358-0560 or Email: okuda_a@niac.com.

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