In 2015 we developed one of the most ambitious projects our company has ever addressed: the supply of an entire factory for a Japanese company.
It all began in 2015 when Kato, our Japanese dealer, contacted us to propose an ambitious and challenging project, the supply of an entire factory for the manufacturing of wooden doors and windows in northern Japan, namely in Aomori, a location renowned for its cold climate and for its natural hot water springs.
The client was the contractor Tokyo Gumi with main headquarters in downtown Tokyo. The building construction market in Japan is a healthy one, considering also the vast quantity of forests the country has. It was the Japanese company’s intention to widen its sphere of business to the wooden doors and windows sector and thereby increase its productiveness.
The project is launched
Although the project was a complex one, we accepted heartily and with confidence.
We submitted our design in 2016, presenting all of the design aspects and illustrating the schedules and the main operational phases, defining the production, painting and assembly cycles. If the expected conditions were complied with, the production of 50 finished doors/windows per day would be guaranteed.
The whole system consisted of the following elements:
- cutting-off machine and optimizer;
- moulding machine;
- ourRotowood processing station;
- profiling machinePS3A;
- complete painting system;
- door/window assembly station.
The Japanese wood market has requirements that differ from ours, in terms of other types of wood and other types of processing. At the same time, it is legitimate to say that their knowledge of angle grinders and of wood processing machines in general is not as advanced as one would expect. This is why we did not include a Woodpecker processing unit.
For Tokyo Gumi, the investment in high-tech and innovative wood processing machines was a leap forward into a totally new world and, at the same time, the company’s requirements were entirely met with the machines included in the project.
The opening ceremony
Four containers were required to ship the machines. Once the new factory built by Tokyo Gumi was ready for receiving the machines, one of our technicians was sent from Italy to help his Japanese colleagues to start the structure that had been set up, since only the company that had designed the factory system knew all of the details and the inevitable adjustments that would be required to make it fully functional.
The opening ceremony was held on 17th of May 2017 with the attendance of the mayor of Aomori and of other politicians, business men and a large number of journalists. Watching the cutting of the ribbon that gave access to the visit to the factory was quite exciting because we were able to see with great satisfaction that our project had been successful and we witnessed how proud and committed the owner was, a determined man truly committed to helping that small town in the north of Japan by providing the local population with a considerable number of jobs.
Positive feedback over time
One of the greatest satisfactions was to observe that the client almost never called for our assistance because the system always functioned without any serious problems or downtimes.
The only time we heard from the client was when they called for spare parts or for small interventions because of the inexperience of their technicians who, over the years, have in the meantime become more experienced.
Our dealer and a few Tokyo Gumi technicians came to visit us in November of 2017. During the meeting they gave us plenty of positive feedback: the factory was working at full capacity and they had been successful in achieving their targets as planned.
This is proof of the fact that the professionalism, experience and quality that we provide in our designing and production activities bears excellent fruit and creates long-lasting partnerships.
In July of this year, we received a Japanese delegation led by Mr. Mito Kakizawa, a progressive MP (Member of the House of Representatives of Japan) who is launching various plans and projects for the development of the wood industry in Japan.
While the cost of wood as a raw material has increased in all other countries, in Japan it has stayed unvaried because the country abounds in forests (and therefore in timber).
The most common type is cedar wood that is currently ‘burnt’ to give it a special appearance before being used for the building of houses, windows, furniture and so on.
There is a counter-trend, however, that favours the use of PVC or aluminum instead of wood despite its abundance because of the (false) belief that they cost less.
Transferring our know-how to Japan
Most factories operating in the wood sector in Japan are located in the outskirts of its cities, in areas that are still not developed. There they work with old methods and without state-of-the-art technology, also because the level of education and skill in this sector is low. The operators lack the knowledge of how to program and operate the latest generation of processing stations.
Mr. Mito Kakizawa sees great potential for the Japanese wood industry and has come to Italy, together with his wife who is also quite active in this project, in order to see the level we have achieved in Italy and to ‘take away’ some of our experience and knowledge about how we structure our industries, in order to export this know-how to Japan.
The Consul has visited Aomori to see the factory set up for Tokyo Gumi, and has acknowledged the fact that, since its launch, the factory has continued to work uninterruptedly and without creating any problems.
During his visit to our headquarters, he especially appreciated the projects launched by Saomad for a more technological, automated and autonomous future. He was also impressed by a visit to one of our clients nearby where he watched the Woodpecker Mirai 4500 work totally without the need of a human operator.
Evolving the wood sector
The innovation and technology present in our processing units can be of great help to other countries that have still to achieve the appropriate levels of technology.
Indeed, after a few weeks of preparation, during which our technicians work next to our clients’ operators to teach them how to use the machine correctly and efficiently, and once the machine has been installed, all the clients’ operators are required to do is set the program for a given order and the machine will startto operate continuously and unmanned.