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Vibrant SMEs of JAPAN

Challenging the Global Market with Domestically Produced Measuring Instruments [Matsushima Machinery Laboratory]

Secret to Robustness
  • First domestically produced microwave level meter.
  • Aggressively advancing into overseas markets.
  • Detailed attention that is unique to Japan.

Matsushima Machinery Laboratory, which supplies level meters, powder measuring devices, and belt conveyor protection devices to iron works, chemical plants, and power plants, is changing its name effective April 1, 2014 to "Matsushima Measure Tech". The company name has been a familiar name for 67 years ever since the company was founded in 1946, so this move to change the company name to katakana notation demonstrates the company's strong will to compete worldwide. Matsushima Machinery intends to compete head-to-head with other companies ranging for local small and medium size companies to global measuring instrument manufacturers.

Challenged European Manufacturers to Competition with the First Domestically Produced Product

The company developed a sounding level meter in 1954 and then began selling level measurement instruments. In the nearly 60 years since then, Matsushima Machinery has maintained a proud track record particularly as a manufacturer of level meters for powder. However, three major manufacturers from Germany (Endress+Hauser, VEGA, and Siemens) held a majority of the market share for level meters that use high frequency microwaves.
"In this state, neither the market nor our company will grow. Let's develop domestically produced high frequency level meters." In order to challenge large overseas companies to a competition, President Tohru Matsushima directed the company to embark on the development of the first domestically produced pulse radar type microwave level meter. In 2007, the company developed a meter with a frequency of 5.6GHz jointly with Kyushu University.
In 2012, the company also successfully developed a similar pulse radar type microwave level meter with a frequency of 26GHz, and from a functional perspective, that product stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the products of the three major European manufacturers. The new level meter was realized using three independently developed circuits for signal processing, microwave transmission, and power supply.
This microwave level meter can measure the levels of powders such as coal ash and cement stored in silos and the levels of liquids such as oil and chemicals without having to contact the raw materials. Compared to the paddle method or the sounding method for which a weight is moved up and down, the microwave level meter meets the needs for precision, large scale, non-contact measurements. In addition, the detailed attention that comes with products made in Japan became popular, and in the first fiscal year, the company sold 300 units.

Strengthening the Asian and U.S. Markets

For the fiscal period ending in March 2012, overseas sales accounted for approximately 20% of Matsushima Machinery's total sales. However, the company devised a medium-term plan to increase that percentage to 50% by the fiscal period ending in March 2017, in other words, within just 5 years, and is now advancing with that plan. Since 2012, the company has opened representative offices in South Korea, Thailand, and the United States. As the first local corporation in Southeast Asia, the office in Thailand is contributing to sales and revenue growth in all of Asia including India. According to President Matsushima, "The three German companies just sell their products and do nothing more. However, because of our detailed care of customers including maintenance support, we are already gaining a strong reputation amongst customers. We want to continue highlighting this point in an effort to increase sales."
Currently, the company has the greatest expectations for the U.S. market. There are no manufacturers in the United States of level meters that use microwaves, and other than level meters that are based on the sounding method or the paddle method, the three major German manufacturers of course control the market. According to President Matsushima, by introducing the 26GHz level meter that was developed independently by Matsushima Machinery, "We will likely be able to achieve sales that surpass the level in the Japanese market within 3 years."
As a first effort, Matsushima Machinery formed an OEM contract in October with the local level meter manufacturer Bindicator (South Carolina), and then began supplying product. In addition, the company is also currently conducting deliberations directed at forming similar supply contracts with other local companies including a field device manufacturer, and is examining the possibility of expanding a liaison office that was opened in Chicago. The company has high expectations for cultivating the vast U.S. market.

Targeting a Global Share of 10%

"To be honest, I worried about changing the name of the company." President Matsushima revealed his true feelings, and then continued, "Matsushima Machinery has been around for many years, and the company name is cherished. I also worried about the katakana notation." However, there is a reason for changing the company name. In a survey conducted overseas, the coined term Matsushima Measure Tech, which is formed by combining the words "measure" and "technology", made a favorable impression.
As Matsushima Machinery, which specializes in powder level meters, also extends its reach to liquid measurement, it must keep an eye on the food and healthcare industries moving forward. "Our company name is almost unknown in those industries, and it's difficult to explain from the beginning our company name that includes the term machinery. Young people don't have any problem whatsoever with the use of katakana or English in a company name." Based on a summary of opinions within the company, President Matsushima decided to change the company's name.
The company will embark on business worldwide using the new company name and new products as its weapon. Currently, the company's global market share of microwave level meters is about 1%, but President Matsushima stated excitedly, "Within 5 years, we'll be selling 5,000 units a year and will gain 10% of the market share. We're striving to be number one in the powder field."

First domestically produced microwave level meter

First domestically produced microwave level meter

One Point: Key Point is Foreign Market

Preparing a Sales Organization to Become a Global Company

President Matsushima spends about one-third of his time each year on business trips in Japan and abroad. On those trips, he listens to the opinions of customers and distributors, and he then provides feedback to the development, manufacturing, and sales departments. President Matsushima proudly stated, "Domestic demand has not disappeared. As the three German companies were monopolizing the market around the world, we finally output product made in Japan. We feel confident." Next, all the company has to do is build a sales organization, which is something that tends to be an obstacle for small and medium size companies. Matsushima Machinery is endeavoring to transform into a global company.

Company Data

President:Tohru Matsushima

Tohru Matsushima

Company name Matsushima Machinery Laboratory co.ltd.
President Tohru Matsushima
Industry Type Manufacturing of measurement and control equipment
Address 1-8-18 Norimatsuhigashi, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Phone 093-691-3731

Printing day:December 26, 2013

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