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HOME > 経営をよくする > Vibrant SMEs of JAPAN

Vibrant SMEs of JAPAN


Cultivating New Markets with Stainless Steel Housing Manufactured with a Unique Construction Technique [Yamagata Asahi]

Secret to Robustness
  • New Construction Technique Developed Using Accumulated Technology.
  • Collaborating with Material Manufacturers to Propose a New, Inexpensive Material.
  • New Sales Department Created to Make a Serious Effort to Cultivate New Markets.

Delivered 800 Units in 3 Months

Emphasizing the need to cultivate new markets, Yamagata Asahi President Satoshi Fukatsu stated, "We'll hit a plateau with only the business that we've been engaged in until now. We must advance with efforts to differentiate our company from the rest and to expand the number of orders that we receive." Yamagata Asahi is a precision sheet metal processing manufacturer whose core business is the manufacture of housings, and the company is focusing its efforts on cultivating new markets in areas such as the social infrastructure field with proposals and sales using an independently developed "MW Construction Technique" that minimizes the welding process.
The MW construction technique is named from the initials for "Minimum Welding". The company specializes in stainless steel machining, and in 2012, Yamagata Asahi's business innovation plan was certified by Yamagata Prefecture based on the Act for the Promotion of New Business Activities by Small and Medium-Size Enterprises. Since then, the company has been expanding its cultivation of sales channels for stainless steel housings manufactured using the new construction technique. Thus far, business has been centered on housings for communication equipment, but because the volume of orders received is in a decreasing trend, the cultivation of new fields has become a pressing issue. Even before acquiring certification for its business innovation plan, Yamagata Asahi successfully fulfilled orders for approximately 800 units of outdoor housings for use in public transportation in roughly 3 months. According to President Fukatsu, the new construction technique "enables manufacturing with awareness of mass production support."

Minimizing Welding

The new construction technique basically consists of fitting a lid on a top part on which a step bend has been formed to create a housing, and the number of man-hours involved in the welding process is reduced to one-third compared to conventional techniques. The technique utilizes Yamagata Asahi's unique precision sheet metal processing technology. Because of the fitting structure, welding is performed only where necessary, and welding is further minimized using rivets. By reducing the man-hours required for welding without limit, the time required to repair distortions due to heat is also shortened. By reinforcing its efforts to support shorter delivery deadlines, the company is also lowering costs and differentiating itself from other companies. The company is targeting support of custom products required by those it works with, and is focusing its strength on proposals and sales for various types of projects in the social infrastructure field using the new construction technique as a weapon.
Yamagata Asahi, which specializes in stainless steel machining, is also collaborating with material manufacturers to promote proposals for the new "SUS443J1" material with a chrome content increased to 21%. The new material exhibits corrosion resistance that is equal to or greater than that of the ordinary "SUS304" material that contains nickel, and its price fluctuations are minimal, so the new material can be provided inexpensively. Yamagata Asahi intends to propose overall cost reductions through the application of both the MW construction technique and the new material.

Targeting Infrastructure, Public Sector, and Disaster Prevention Fields

A new sales department was created in April to promote sales of the new construction technique. The task of dealing with customers, which until now had been handled by the manufacturing division, was consolidated in the sales department. The objective is to strengthen the company's ability to gather information, and a system is being developed that secures jobs handled by the company with consideration of production balance as well. Jobs done using the MW construction technique, which is suited for mass production, currently account for approximately 20% of the company's overall job load, but the company intends to increase that percentage to 50% within several years. Equalization of the production division is also a current issue, and the company intends to raise its antenna and engage in efforts to cultivate new markets.
Yamagata Asahi's strength is stainless steel machining, and currently, products manufactured with stainless steel account for approximately 70% of the company's products. Ordinarily, the cost of stainless steel as a material itself is higher than that of iron, but when stainless steel is used in outdoor housings, there is no need for a coating that prevents rusting. Another merit is the ability to achieve lighter weight designs. By minimizing production costs by adopting Yamagata Asahi's new construction technique, the company claims that a reduction in costs of approximately 20% overall compared to conventional techniques that use iron can be expected. Outdoor housings made of stainless steel are a major target, but the company is also setting its sights on cultivating new markets in areas such as social infrastructure related fields, public related fields, and the disaster prevention field. President Fukatsu stated, "We have started to make a move, and from here, we want to assess the jobs done by this company and promote the widespread use of the new construction technique."
Yamagata Asahi currently has 69 employees. With the business environment surrounding small and medium size manufacturers becoming even more difficult, this company is emphasizing company-wide communication. As part of that effort, the company holds a corporate strategy meeting for all of its employees twice each year. The meeting provides an opportunity for President Fukatsu to convey the direction targeted by the company and to confirm the goals for the entire company. Through this and other measures, Yamagata Asahi is becoming united as an entire company in its effort to cultivate new markets.

Outdoor Housings Manufactured with the MW Construction Technique

Outdoor Housings Manufactured with the MW Construction Technique


One Point: Key Point is Foreign Market

Attracting Attention in the "City of Power Distribution Panels"

Nanyo City in Yamagata Prefecture is home to Yamagata Asahi's headquarters and is also a town of power distribution panels. Numerous companies engaged in everything from power distribution panel design to sheet metal processing, coating, assembly, and wiring are located within the city. In the midst of this, Yamagata Asahi independently developed the "MW Construction Technique" to minimize the welding process and is now attracting attention. With the base technology, President Fukatsu wondered if manufacturing could somehow be achieved more quickly, and from that idea, a new technique that is suited for mass production was created. Moving forward, the company will consider the balance with production as well, and attention will be focused on whether the new technique will somehow lead to the stable securement of orders. Moving forward, the ability to cultivate new markets will be the true test.

Company Data

President:Satoshi Fukatsu

President:Satoshi Fukatsu

Company name Yamagata Asahi Corporation
President Satoshi Fukatsu
Industry Type Precision Sheet Metal Processing
Address 213 Motonakayama, Nanyo City, Yamagata Prefecture
Phone 0238-49-2624

Printing day:December 26, 2013

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